Missouri Agroforestry Summer Institutes: High School Educator Training for Curriculum Delivery

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2016: $70,334.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2020
Grant Recipient: University of Missouri
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Michael Gold
MU Center for Agroforestry
Hannah Hemmelgarn
University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: networking, workshop, youth education

    Proposal abstract:

    With significant advances in the science of agroforestry over the last 20 years, ongoing agroforestry education programs for natural resource professionals have fostered awareness of the opportunities to combine productivity, profitability and environmental stewardship. However, agroforestry is not yet represented in secondary education environments. A growing number of Missouri’s agriculture students, increasing from 13,325 in 1985 to 28,664 in 2015, are exposed to agricultural focus areas that guide their life-long career paths.  More than half of these students will pursue an agricultural profession after high school.  

    This project, a collaboration between the University of Missouri (MU) Center for Agroforestry (UMCA), MU Dept. of Agriculture Education and Leadership, and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) with FFA, will provide six 2-day Agroforestry Summer Institutes to train 90 high school Missouri agriculture educators between 2017 and 2019. 

    Missouri’s FFA curriculum development groups are currently redesigning the Agriculture Science II course, which will include an experience-based six-module agroforestry unit (at least one-week duration during the school year) that will integrate sustainable land use models exemplified by agroforestry into the foundational education of young farmers and agriculture professionals. However, educator delivery of an agroforestry curriculum depends on educator understanding of the curriculum material.  To prepare educators to use this new curriculum for the advancement of their students’ professional applications of sustainable agriculture, an Agroforestry Summer Institute will be created to prepare educators with the tools and materials needed to teach the agroforestry unit in their high school Agriculture Science II classes. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Create experiential agroforestry high school curriculum.

    The agroforestry curriculum described in the above resource section is the foundational resource from which agriculture educators will be able to transfer agroforestry content to the high school classroom.  The curriculum will include extensive educator resources and materials adaptable to a broad range of class sizes and durations, with a focus on experiential methods of instruction including problem-solving student collaboration, engagement with regional farmers, and application of agroforestry practices, planning and design. 

    Curriculum content will be developed by: Ms. Hannah Hemmelgarn, MS Graduate Research Assistant and experiential educator; Dr. Anna Ball, University of Missouri Agriculture Education and Leadership Dept. Chair; Dr. Hank Stelzer, University of Missouri Forestry Dept. Chair and State Forestry Extension Specialist; and Dr. Michael Gold, Associate Director UMCA.  Content will consist of a 6-module (1-week) portion of the larger forestry unit within Agriculture Science II, an upper level high school agriculture class that prepares 5,357 students in Missouri for the Supervised Agricultural Experience Program, Career Development Events, and students’ agricultural professional foci. 

    The experiential pedagogy of the agroforestry curriculum is based on Missouri high school agriculture educator feedback (UMCA research in progress) and personal communication with FFA-DESE curriculum developers who recognize the need for hands-on, peer-to-peer approaches for engaging, effective lessons. Research on the use of experiential learning in secondary agriculture education classrooms reveals that students’ subject matter retention increases, students engage more actively and use higher order thinking skills towards greater academic success when educators directly involve the learner in the phenomena being studied. 

    The curriculum materials, including an agroforestry resource compendium, will be available to educators on the DESE agriculture curriculum website, on the Center for Agroforestry website, and in the Educator Hub of the interactive Perennial Systems Map developed by the Savanna Institute.  Additionally, the Center for Integrated Agriculture Systems (CIAS) “Toward a Sustainable Agriculture” curriculum will include the agroforestry unit lessons in the Stewardship module VI available publicly online. 

    b) Recruit educators for summer institutes.

    Spring recruitment of educators with assistance from state and national agriculture education partners and project advisory committee members will precede Agroforestry Summer Institutes to confirm the number of participating educators, their location and travel requirements, their background knowledge and expertise.  Educators will prepare for the training in advance with a follow-up confirmation and assignment to review a set of agroforestry resources in order to assure the most effective use of training time for educator practice and understanding. 

    Current agriculture secondary educator research (UMCA, in progress) indicates that educator interest in attending an Agroforestry Summer Institute is based on available funds for registration fee support, relevance to Career Development Events (CDE), and time availability (2-day training duration is preferred). 

    c) Create educator training syllabus and resource compendium.

    In partnership with UMCA faculty and staff, agroforestry collaborators (Mid-America Agroforestry Working Group, USDA National Agroforestry Center, Assn for Temperate Agroforestry), and agriculture educator groups (FFA, NAAE, NACAA, SAEA), a resource compendium specifically relevant and accessible to agriculture educators will be compiled and made available electronically.  The resource compendium will include the Agroforestry Training Manual, Agroforestry Practice videos, and the Handbook for Agroforestry Planning and Design.  These materials will be adapted to meet the needs of secondary educators, as well as an interactive map generated by the Savanna Institute that identifies agroforestry practitioners, organizations, and fellow educators that may serve as a Midwest regional resource for direct engagement between students and communities.  Within the Savanna Institute’s interactive Perennial Map, an Educator Hub will house all curriculum and training resources publicly. 

    Based on the agroforestry curriculum modules, the educator-training syllabus will include a schedule and outline of content and activities associated with the Agroforestry Summer Institutes, which may be distributed to partnering agriculture educator professional development organizations.

    d) Conduct six 2-day Agroforestry Summer Institutes.

    Two Agroforestry Summer Institute educator trainings will take place during each year of the grant at various locations throughout the State of Missouri.  These trainings will include hands-on experiential components for educators to practice agroforestry curriculum lessons as both educator and student. Additionally, educators will have an opportunity to interact with UMCA researchers and agroforestry practitioners’ first-hand, visit agroforestry demonstrating one or more of the 5 agroforestry practices referenced in the curriculum, and directly practice high school curriculum assignments and activities including a group agroforestry design presentation.  Student Supervised Agricultural Experience Program projects can be drawn directly from these experiences and networks. Together, these components of the Summer Institute will equip educators to deliver the agroforestry curriculum upon completion of the training. Fifteen educators will attend each training, for a total of 90 Missouri agriculture educator professionals.

    The Agroforestry Summer Institutes provide Missouri agriculture secondary educators with a connection to the agroforestry content and creative ability to collaborate with the curriculum developers to best meet their needs and the needs and interests of their students for effective delivery of agroforestry content that is currently underrepresented in the high school agriculture science classroom.

    e) Disseminate materials and methods.

    Curriculum development and professional training institutions for agriculture educators including SAEA, NACAA, NAAE, NAAC and FFA will be provided with the educator training syllabus, curriculum materials, and resource compendium for agroforestry education delivery opportunities nation-wide.  Conference presentations about the agroforestry curriculum and Agroforestry Summer Institutes will take place at the Sustainable Agriculture Educator Association (SAEA) and North American Agroforestry Conference (NAAC) biennial conferences.  An educator training based on the Agroforestry Summer Institutes will also be delivered as a 2.5 hour Professional Improvement Council Seminar at the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) 2017 meeting, and at the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) 2018 conference in order to advance the reach of professional training. 


    • April 2017: Finalize the 6-module experiential agroforestry curriculum for inclusion in the updated Agriculture Science II class curriculum posted by FFA in collaboration with DESE, in the CIAS “Toward a Sustainable Agriculture” curriculum, and on the Education Hub of the Savanna Institute’s Perennial Map.
    • April 2017, 2018, 2019: Recruit Missouri secondary agriculture educators for participation in Agroforestry Summer Institutes, deliver pre-Institute surveys.
    • May 2017: Compile agriculture educator agroforestry resource compendium to reflect educator uses of the Agroforestry Training Manual and Handbook for Agroforestry Planning and Design.
    • June 2017, 2018, 2019: Produce agriculture educator agroforestry resource compendium in print for participating agriculture educators.
    • June 2017, 2018, 2019: Conduct 2 agroforestry summer institutes per year at the New Franklin, MO HARC farm for up to 15 educators per Institute.
    • July 2017, 2018, 2019: Receive post-Institute feedback from educators for the continuous improvement of the professional development program.
    • July 2017, 2018, 2019: Create an online directory and network of agriculture educators employing the agroforestry curriculum for ongoing resource exchange on the Savanna Institute Perennial Map Educator Hub, updated prior to each training.
    • July 2017, 2018, 2019: Conduct end-of-program evaluation meetings, receive and evaluate educator and student post-curriculum delivery surveys and assessments.
    • 2017, 2018, and 2019: Share materials and methods at partner organization conferences for the continued dissemination of agriculture educator agroforestry trainings. Present short courses for educators at two educator professional meetings (Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE), National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA).  Present on PDP Summer Institute (lessons learned and curriculum) at two professional conferences (North American Agroforestry Conference (NAAC), Sustainable Agriculture Education Assn (SAEA) Conference);


    • Release of 6-module agroforestry curriculum for high school students in Agriculture Science II.
    • Conduct six educator training Agroforestry Summer Institutes, 2 per year over 3 years for a total of 90 agriculture educators trained in Missouri.
    • Educator training syllabus, curriculum materials and resource compendium made available online through UMCA, DESE, NAC, NCR-SARE, CIAS, and Savanna Institute websites, and promoted for national release.
    • Agriculture educator directory made available online through UMCA, DESE, NCR-SARE, NAC, AFTA websites, for networking and resource sharing among current and future educators implementing agroforestry units.
    • Agroforestry farmer directory available in collaboration with the Savanna Institute as a student and educator field resource on the Perennial Map Educator Hub.
    • Certificates of completion and continuing education credits awarded to participating agriculture 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.