Curriculum in Organic Agriculture for Agents and Teachers

2004 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 2004, Georgia Organics made some progress on its project to design a curriculum in organic agriculture for cooperative extension agents and agricultural teachers. Due to new staff and backloggged work schedules the project was delayed and a one year extension was requested and granted. This curriculum is being designed to introduce students, Master Gardeners and farmers to organic growing and markets..

Objectives/Performance Targets

  1. The objectives for the second year were to:

    Meet with design team and specify end-users and their needs
    Determine the format of the curriculum
    Write the curriculum text
    Design creative supporting materials
    Present curriculum to design team for review
    Revise the curriculum
    Design opportunities for interaction of students with farmers



The design team met in July and reviewed the timeline and objectives of the project. The end-users were identified as high school agriculture teachers, Master Gardeners and extension agents with primary emphasis on a curriculum suited for to a high school agriculture student. The format will be electronic in the form of a CD to allow for flexibility in use. Units can be pulled out easily for use with different audiences, or in different settings such as workshops, one-day seminars, and in-depth classes. Georgia agriculture teachers presently receive their curriculum from the state in the form of a set of CDs, so they are familiar with this format. This electronic format also allows for a variety of creative learning activities.

Creative learning activities were brainstormed, later, in a conference call with several of the design team members. Many creative ideas were suggested and a list created of activities that address the various areas of the curriculum. Different members took responsibility for following up on the ideas and developing them into activities. Some examples of proposed learning elements are: a wall poster that could be sent to all teachers to introduce the curriculum, a soil quality card developed by farmers and Georgia Conservation Tillage Alliance, and an activity called “Disease Detective”. The quality and ease of use of these learning activities will determine, to a large extent, how much the curriculum is implemented by ag teachers.

Georgia Organics Executive Director, Alice Rolls spoke with Geoff Zehnder at Clemson University about the SARE-funded on-line core curriculum project for extension agents that he is working on. They agreed to keep in touch and share information .

Lead curriculum writer, Alex McGregor completed a draft of the first unit on soils, in November. One of the design team members did an in-depth analysis of the draft, with many suggestions for improvement in the format. Other members of the team gave general suggestions. These suggestions will be incorporated and a revised version will be created. By getting feedback at the beginning of the process, he will be more productive and on-target as he writes the following units.

Dr. Teri Hamlin of the North Georgia Agricultural Education for the Georgia Department of Education and a member of the design team was able to facilitate an agreement with the Department of Education to put the organic curriculum developed in this project on the state issued CD for high school agriculture teachers in Georgia. This was a big step forward in the plan to get the curriculum to the end-users and a real encouragement to those working on the project. Format issues are being worked out so the curriculum will correspond to that already on the CD. There is even the possibility of inserting some organic concepts in the present ag curriculum in 2005. She also suggested a workshop for agriculture teachers to introduce them to the concepts of organics through farm visits in the summer of 2005. The workshop is currently being advertised to the teachers.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

The year got off to a slow start as the new Executive Director, hired in January 2004, got her feet on the ground and tried to prioritize the many tasks in front of her. Momentum began to pick up with the design team meeting in July, discussion of learning activities and the writing of the first unit. The announcement that the curriculum would be included in the state-issued high school agriculture curriculum was important in moving this project toward completion. Inclusion of organic concepts in the present curriculum and the workshop for teachers will begin to introduce agriculture teachers to organic ideas and hopefully, make them eager for the full curriculum coming in 2006.