Developing Educational Resources on Sustainable Food Systems for High School Students

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2018: $11,354.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2019
Grant Recipient: Purdue University
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Neil Knobloch
University of Illinois

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: beekeeping, crop rotation, food processing, greenhouses, high tunnels or hoop houses, organic fertilizers, pollination, seed saving
  • Education and Training: youth education
  • Farm Business Management: community-supported agriculture, labor/employment
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, drift/runoff buffers
  • Pest Management: mulching - plastic
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems, organic agriculture, organic certification
  • Soil Management: composting
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community development, community planning, community services, ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, leadership development, local and regional food systems, partnerships, public participation, public policy, quality of life, social networks, urban agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    This project will develop online educational resources, which include experiential learning activities to engage high school students in learning about sustainable food systems. High school students will have a greater understanding of sustainability and how their food choices are related to the environment, economy, and community. Together with the experiential learning activities, students will learn the skills to think more critically and systematically. Farmers will be involved in this project by providing their expertise and interacting with the students. Resources will be available online to scale to a wider audience. The modules will foster an appreciation for sustainable agriculture in order to make an informed decision in food choices or future careers. Each module will include the guideline for students to explore specific issue on their own through hands-on experiences that are suitable for their circumstances. To produce the modules, the graduate student will be guided by her advisor to frame and focus the content and concepts, identify existing resources, and develop learning resources. The advisory panel will provide feedback for the modules. Farmers and agricultural professionals' teachings will be recorded for the modules. They will interact with students in the classroom. The increase of knowledge among students will be measured by knowledge assessments. Students will express their understanding of the topic by the presentation assignment that challenges them to apply sustainability principles and critically think about recommendations for the farm they visit. The modules will be evaluated based upon usefulness by collecting feedback from students and teachers. In addition, a questionnaire will be included in the online modules after the users complete the lessons. Questionnaires will be administered to teachers and students to determine students' interests, engagement, and dimensions of systems thinking skills.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Learning outcomes:

    The development of modules for high school students aims to increase their knowledge about sustainability and systems thinking by engaging them to learn about sustainable food systems topics. Students will have a greater understanding of the importance of supporting sustainable agriculture and how their food choices are related to the environment, economy, and community. Learning about consequences of food systems environmentally, economically, and socially can raise an awareness and change a person's attitude towards food choices. Together with the experiential learning activities, students will learn the skills to think more critically and systematically.

    Action outcomes:

    This project mobilizes a network of high school students, farmers, and agricultural professionals to build social capital. The farmers will be recognized for their work and have the opportunities to share their stories as educators. In the long-term, these developed resources will be accessed online by other schools or farmers interested in sustainable agriculture and food systems. The materials will foster the appreciation for sustainable agriculture among students to make an informed decision in their future career or further study. We will show students how to apply sustainability concepts in everyday decisions and change behaviors to be pro­environmental. High school students will gain insights in sustainable practices and connect to farmers at the local level to learn sustainable practices to strengthen the local community. The engagement approach supports students to develop life-long learning regarding sustainable food systems. Finally, through the assignments, students will be able to communicate more effectively about the sustainability principles.

    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.