Towards a Sustainable Agriculture: An Updated Curriculum for High School Classes

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2003: $83,671.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Douglas Maxwell
University of Wisconsin

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, soybeans, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Animals: bovine, poultry, swine
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Animal Production: grazing - rotational, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: nutrient cycling
  • Education and Training: general education and training
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Soil Management: green manures, composting
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures


    A web-based curriculum on sustainable agriculture was developed for use in Iowa and Wisconsin high school agriculture programs. This curriculum is based in part on Wisconsin’s sustainable agriculture curriculum published in 1991 but also incorporates new material and references other sustainable agriculture resources now available. The first parts of the curriculum were made available on the web in late spring of 2005. During 2006 the fourth module addressing sustainable horticulture was added to the site and work was started on a fifth module focusing on organic agriculture. The curriculum website URL is


    Elective agriculture classes remain a popular choice in Wisconsin and Iowa high schools. These classes now attract large numbers of students from non-farm backgrounds, and in rural areas they also include a significant portion of students from farm families. Although there are quite a few lessons and resources on sustainable agriculture that can be used in teaching (see the on-line listing of Sustainable Agriculture Resources and Programs for K-12 Youth at ), most are aimed at elementary students. In addition, with the exception of the UC Santa Cruz Agroecology curriculum for post secondary students, the resources are designed to teach single stand-alone lessons and do not provide an overview of sustainable agriculture concepts. The only comprehensive sustainable agriculture teaching resource for high school students was a curriculum published in 1991. The purpose of this project was to develop a web-based sustainable agriculture curriculum that would be easily accessible for high school teachers.

    Project objectives:

    • High school teachers in Wisconsin and Iowa will become more knowledgeable about sustainable agriculture.

      Teachers in Wisconsin and Iowa who are interested in alternative approaches to agriculture will use the curriculum in their classes.

      High school students in those classes will become aware of principles of sustainable agriculture and of examples in their area.

      High school students in those classes will become aware of their role in the food system.

      Intermediate and long-term

      Some students will become involved in projects related to sustainable agriculture.

      The knowledge and awareness gained through the curriculum may influence the actions of some students as college students, working adults, and consumers.

      20% of high school agriculture teachers in Wisconsin and Iowa will use at least portions of the curriculum in their teaching.

      Teachers will incorporate sustainable agriculture concepts and materials into the rest of their agriculture curriculum.

      Communities where the curriculum is taught will become more accepting of sustainable agriculture practitioners.

      The curriculum will be adapted for use in other states.

      The curriculum will be expanded to include additional modules.

    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.