Curriculum in Organic Agriculture for Agents and Teachers

2003 Annual Report for ES03-068

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2003: $70,810.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
Principal Investigator:
Alice Rolls
Georgia Organics

Curriculum in Organic Agriculture for Agents and Teachers


In 2003, Georgia Organics began work on its project to design a curriculum in organic agriculture for cooperative extension agents and agricultural teachers. The curriculum is being designed to introduce students, Master Gardeners and farmers to organic growing and markets.

Objectives/Performance Targets

The primary objectives for the first year were to:
1) Gather existing material and curriculums
2) Meet with design team and elicit end-user specifications
3) Design curriculum and supporting materials
4) Present curriculum to design team for critique and redrafting
5) Revision of curriculum


Georgia Organics Executive Director began conversation with its lead designer, Alex McGregor, an experienced organic grower and educator. Together, they began the process of defining the scope and content of the project and reviewing the variety of end-users and their specific needs. Jerry Larson was also enlisted as a contributing consultant to provide input, particularly in relation to eventual demonstration and hands-on recommendations. Mr. Larson has 16 years experience as a horticulturalist and extenstion agent at Fort Valley State University Cooperative Extension Program.

The first phase consisted of researching existing curriculums and materials that may prove helpful for the designers. Georgia Organics and the designers cited the following resources as potentially helpful: 1) materials from a SARE Educational Grant from a credit course at Ohio University; 2) materials from a credit course in Organic Market farming for Chattanooga State; 3) a curriculum developed by University of California at Santa Cruz entitled “Training Organic Farmers & Gardeners: Resources for Instructors”; and 4) the Georgia High School Agricultural Teachers Curriculum. In all, existing materials on organic curriculum seem to be in short supply. The most comprehensive and impressive was the University of California at Santa Cruz curriculum, which will provide some excellent insight for this project. They developed a 604-page manual which can be ordered for $45 or downloaded in pieces on their website (

Members of the design team met in July to offer input in overall content and project specifications. The team reviewed the various end-users and key audiences and discussed how best to package a core curriculum with adaptable sections that can be added for more in-depth or advanced training. The amount of content and curriculum time periods for the various audiences were also outlined. Since these will vary dramatically, a degree of flexibility will need to be incorporated into the final curriculum. After the summer meeting, Georgia Organics Director began more extensive interviews with design team members including invaluable participants such as Dr. Teri Hamlin who oversees North Georgia Agricultural Education for the Georgia Department of Education.

Georgia Organics also attended the Georgia Vocational Agricultural Teachers Association (GVATA) in July 2003 and set-up a trade show booth. More than 40 educators signed our curriculum outreach and interest form. Georgia Organics will leverage these names to generate future interest and feedback in the process.

Georgia Organics also began to discuss the end-product design elements and format. A CD seems to be a preferable format for the curriculum with supplemental materials including classroom posters and powerpoint slides. Educators also stressed the importance of strong hands-on instructional elements to underscore classroom learning.

Further work on the grant had to be put on hold due to staffing turnover within the organization.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

While some excellent work was initiated on this grant in terms of research and development of specifications, Georgia Organics experienced major staffing transitions during the year that caused significant delays in initiating the actual curriculum design. The project was put on hold while the organization hired a new Executive Director who began in January 2004. As a result, the grant timeline was jeopardized and further compromised by the impending growing season and commitments of our designer-farmers. Georgia Organics requested a one-year extension to re-adjust our schedule with the original seasonal outline and retain the continued participation of key partners important to the project's development.