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


    Teaching farms have recently gained popularity, but they are often expensive venues per student credit hour. It is therefore important they are used effectively. This research explored why faculty members use teaching farms, their goals and objectives with regard to the farm, and how they integrate teaching farms into curriculum. Twenty interviews were completed with faculty representing 15 institutions. A combined inductive and deductive approach was used to analyze data. The result was a typology of the roles of teaching farms in achieving educational goals and objectives. Four types of roles emerged, enhancement, competency, exploration, and foundation. Three of the four types reflect one of three models of higher education prevalent in the U.S. Our research suggests a better understanding of educational theory and pedagogy, combined with a firm appreciation of the different models of high education could significantly enhance the quality of the learning experience provided on teaching farms. The team elected to develop teaching materials for use on farms that focus on the exploration role.  The distinct approaches to using teaching farms do call for materials that are appropriate to the overall teaching strategy and an attempt to develop a ‘one size fits all’ set of materials is likely to yield a product that is not very satisfactory for any of the roles.


    Project objectives:

    (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.