Educating and Training Future Farmers, Researchers and Extension Personnel in Sustainable Agriculture

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2010: $245,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Principal Investigator:
Rosalie Koenig
University of Florida

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: catch crops, cover crops, crop rotation, intercropping, multiple cropping, nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers, contour farming, terraces
  • Education and Training: demonstration, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, indicators, riverbank protection, soil stabilization, carbon sequestration
  • Pest Management: biological control, competition, mulches - living, mulching - vegetative, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Soil Management: green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, soil microbiology

    Proposal abstract:

    The purpose of this project is to ensure that the next generation of producers, researchers, extension personnel and other service providers understand the principles and practices of sustainable agriculture. This project will help instructors teach sustainable agriculture at institutions of higher learning to prepare students to meet the challenges that they will likely face in their careers.

    The research questions that this project aims to address include:

    1.) How effectively do instructors of sustainable agriculture courses at institutions of higher learning in the U.S. incorporate teaching farms to produce objective-based learning outcomes, higher-order thinking skills and students who can apply theories and knowledge learned in the classroom to work in the field?
    2.) Which model of teaching is most effective for teaching topics of sustainable agriculture?
    3.) What is the best way to incorporate teaching farms into sustainable agriculture education?
    4.) Will implementing the best pedagogical model produce optimal learning outcomes among students?

    The University of Florida project team and sustainable agriculture course instructors at partnering land-grant universities in the southern region (Clemson University, North Carolina State University and University of Puerto Rico) propose to measure the effectiveness of teaching farms in sustainable agriculture programs at universities in the U.S., identify the most effective pedagogical models, carefully analyze the best models, and incorporate results to develop at least eight new integrated multi-disciplinary sustainable agriculture educational modules to implement at partner institutions and other universities throughout the nation. In addition to input from all partners, through focus groups the UF project team will seek input from students in agricultural programs and a diverse group of potential future employers including agricultural businesses, institutional service providers, regulatory agencies, and producers to ensure that the content of these modules is appropriate to practitioners of sustainable agriculture. Based on the foundations of sustainable agriculture, these ready-to-use modules will integrate experiential and objective-based learning theory with Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) and other experiential and discovery-based learning techniques. Each partnering university will implement the modules in their courses and evaluate them based on student learning outcomes and proficiency. The project team will adjust the modules based on evaluations and author a guide about the theoretical framework and how to incorporate the modules before disseminating to other instructors that teach principles of sustainable agriculture in their courses at universities throughout the U.S.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    (1) To develop a two-day workshop that provides the project implementation team members with an understanding of their own learning style and its effects on how they teach, how to incorporate experiential learning into curricula, ways of reaching the six teaching goal areas, and how to develop objective-based instruction. Additionally, the members will assess their team member style and learn how this influences the key roles that they can play on the implementation team.

    (2) To create and inventory of programs in sustainable agriculture at US universities, determine which ones utilize teaching farms and evaluate the extent to which these programs use experiential learning, teach to multiple educational goal areas and employ objective-based learning.

    (3) To develop a model for a multidisciplinary, integrated sustainable agriculture curriculum based on experiential and objective-based learning, using POGIL and other aids for experiential and discovery-based learning that incorporates a teaching farm component for instructors at the University of Florida, North Carolina State University, Clemson University, and the University of Puerto Rico.

    (4) Implement curricula at partner institutions.

    (5) To disseminate the results of the research and model curricula to other institutions, extension professionals and service providers, including a guide about how to use the materials that provides an overview of the theoretical approaches underlying their development.

    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.