Sustainable Agriculture Learning Modules for High School Agriculture

Project Overview

ENC10-116
Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2010: $54,918.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Project Coordinator:
Shannon Moncure
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Co-Coordinators:
Charles Francis
Grain Place Foundation

Annual Reports

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Animal Production: free-range, manure management, pasture fertility
  • Crop Production: crop rotation, cover crops, organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: general education and training
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration
  • Pest Management: cultural control, physical control, cultivation, row covers (for pests), weed ecology
  • Production Systems: holistic management, organic agriculture, permaculture, transitioning to organic
  • Soil Management: organic matter, composting, soil chemistry, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, sustainability measures

    Abstract:

    Year of Evaluation and Expanded Use

    2014 has been a year of fine tuning, expanded use, and more in-depth evaluation of the sustainable agriculture education modules. Discussion documents were created for the newest modules and posted on the website. A description of the modules was posted on the national agricultural educators’ website and responses to this post led to an evaluative partnership with schools in Georgia and Florida among educators who used and evaluated the modules with their classes. Towards the end of the year, a consultation of project partners over the last 4 years was organized and overall project impact was analyzed. After a thorough review of available sustainable agriculture curriculum materials, it was concluded that the modules fit a unique and critical niche in introducing sustainable principles as they do not require teachers to leave the classroom nor do they take a lot of time away from other important curriculum requirements. This project could successfully serve as a model for other states to follow. Project evaluation was accomplished using Google analytics for website traffic and use while overall usefulness and impact was analyzed through an online survey, which was sent out to all agricultural educators across Nebraska to ascertain how the modules were used in their curriculum over the last year. 

     

    Project objectives:

    Short-term/Intermediate Objectives Achieved

    Meeting the project objectives, we ended up with ten different views of agriculture– ten different examples of what “sustainability” might look like in practice. The ten edited videos covering specific topics of interest to Nebraska students are now available. These topics are:

    • Vegetable production and cheese making
    • Biodynamic farm system
    • Diverse dairy operation
    • Crop/animal integration
    • Grass-fed beef
    • Seed saving
    • Future agricultural systems
    • Shelterbelts
    • Cheesemaking, and
    • Grains processing

    Then we went beyond what was originally proposed and combined short clips from these prior interviews into broad issue-based topics in another ten video lessons:

    • Holistic thinking
    • Niche marketing
    • Macroeconomics
    • Innovation and entrepreneurship
    • Biodiverity
    • Insects, weeds, and diseases
    • Soil health
    • Community ties
    • Passion, and
    • Labor

    All videos are complemented by a discussion document including background information on the featured farm, the farm’s website, teaching objectives, discussion questions, and an aerial image of the farm’s exact location. The full interviews (30-45 minutes) from each farm are also available for longer, independent assignments. An outline of the full interview is included in the discussion document for easy reference to applicable sections. These were made accessible on the web through both University of Nebraska and the statewide Department of Education web site used by high school educators.

     

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.