Recruiting Minority Students into Secondary School Agriculture Education Programs: Barriers, Challenges, and Alternatives

K. S. U. Jayaratne, Travis Park, & Jason Davis
The United States population is becoming increasingly diverse, and agricultural education should represent that diversity. Researchers conducted a Delphi study of 12 exemplary agriculture programs with diverse student populations in North Carolina. After three rounds, consensus was reached about 11 strategies useful in recruiting minority students, including most prominently, (1) making personal connections with potential students, (2) students recruiting their minority friends, (3) minority students recruiting other minority students, (4) showcasing exceptional minorities who have succeeded in the agriculture field, and (5) being yourself and care for your students. The study also identified 12 alternatives helpful in retaining the minority students into another agriculture course or FFA, most prominently, (1) buying-in from friends, (2) talking to minority students already in the program, (3) building teacher and student relationship, (4) creating interest in agriculture subjects, and (5) getting minority students connected and involved.

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Knowledge, Skills, and Competencies Needed by Students with Training in Agricultural and Environmental Practices as Perceived by Local Leaders: A Delphi Study

Sarah Sapp, Andrew C. Thoron, & Eric D. Rubenstein
The purpose of this study was to examine the knowledge, skills, and competencies needed by high school students with coursework in agricultural and environmental practices as perceived by educators and industry members. This study utilized a true Delphi technique in order to obtain the perceptions of the respondents. Respondents indicated 122 items that were important for students to possess with coursework in this area. The top 83 items were reported based upon panel members’ perceived importance of these items. There were three major themes or categories of importance identified by the panel members, which include: life/leadership skills, core subject area knowledge, and competence in production agriculture knowledge/practices…

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Climbing Jacob’s Ladder: A Phenomenological Inquiry to Understand Ugandan Farmers’ Experiences Using Fertilizers

Chandler Mulvaney, Kathleen D. Kelsey, Nicholas E. Fuhrman, & Ronald Lemo
This article examines factors influencing Ugandan subsistence farmers’ adoption or rejection of mineral fertilizers using the theory of planned behavior as a theoretical lens (Ajzen, 2011). We conducted semi-structured interviews with 30 Ugandan farmers in-situ. Participants were criterion selected based on their rate of adoption of fertilizers and membership in farmer groups. We analyzed the interviews following phenomenological research design. Four themes emerged, they were (a) we are better together, working in farmer groups improves outcomes, (b) behavioral change begins within the family and farmer groups, (c) farmers need greater access to agricultural production knowledge and inputs, and (d) changes in farmers’ knowledge leads to intentional behavior changes. The themes were summarized to generate the phenomenological essence of climbing Jacob’s ladder. The factors that influenced fertilizer adoption included being a member of a formally recognized and registered farmer group…

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A Qualitative Analysis of the Challenges and Threats facing Cooperative Extension at the County Level

Lendel Narine, Amy Harder, & Priscilla Zelaya
The Cooperative Extension Service faced many challenges and threats over its history. Persistent internal challenges affecting Extension are communication with stakeholders, high employee turnover, and a marketing deficit. Common external threats included reduced funding, increases in non-traditional audiences, and inadequate facilities. Guided by a needs assessment framework, this study sought to identify the challenges and threats facing the [State] Cooperative Extension Service at the county level. Using a basic qualitative research design, the final reports from the 2016 county program reviews were used as the primary source of data. Results were consistent with the literature and showed persistent challenges facing Extension were staff limitations, marketing and communication ineffectiveness, limited program coverage, inadequate volunteer recruitment, and lack of funding…

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Motivational Factors that Influenced Learner Participation in Supervised Agricultural Experience Programs

Eric D. Rubenstein & Andrew C. Thoron
Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) programs are an integral component of school-based agricultural education. However, student participation in SAE has continually decreased since the mid-1980s. Therefore, it was necessary to better understand factors that motivate students to participate in SAE programs. This led to the purpose of this qualitative study, which was to examine motivational factors that influence student participation in SAE. The researchers used the constant comparative analysis method to identify specific motivational factors that influenced SAE participation. The researchers found that participants were motivated by their family’s culture and traditions. Moreover, the student’s participation in the National FFA Organization (FFA), interaction with other FFA members, and recognition through SAE awards structure through FFA motivated students to engage in SAE. Further, the participants in this study were motivated by their personal satisfaction, interest, desire, and goals. The researchers also concluded that the agriculture teacher plays an important role in motivating students through conducting SAE supervision, building lasting relationships with students, and requiring student participation in SAE. Therefore, the researchers recommended that agriculture teachers continue to require every student to conduct an SAE and utilize all available resources to engage students in SAE.

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Leadership development program evaluation: A social network analysis approach

Kevan W. Lamm & Hannah S. Carter
When asked about the benefits of participating in agriculture and natural resource (ANR) leadership development programs, one of the most frequent responses is the network one can develop. However, despite the ubiquity of the perceived benefit there have been few empirical studies conducted to examine network development within ANR leadership development programs. With improved social network data capture and analysis techniques, contemporary ANR leadership development programs, and leadership educators more generally, are well-positioned to take advantage of these developments. The results of the current study indicate social network analysis is an appropriate tool for establishing evaluative measures of network emergence and development within ANR leadership development programs.

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Identifying Communication Strategies to Reach Florida about Government Regulated Water

Peyton N. Beattie, Alexa J. Lamm, Ricky W. Telg, & Cassie Wandersee
The largest consumers of water in Florida are single-family homeowners. The increase in population and the availability of quality water in Florida poses a concern. Identifying audience segments through demographic characteristics can assist in determining strategies to communicate with consumers about government regulated water policies. The purpose of this study was to examine how perceptions of government-mandated water conservation initiatives were related to reported water conservation behaviors based on demographics. Understanding the relationship between government-mandated water conservation initiatives and water conservation behaviors may assist in strategy development when communicating about the need to conserve water to various audience segments based on demographic characteristics.

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Allocation of Time Among Preservice Teachers During Their Clinical Experience

Keith J. Frost, John Rayfield, David Lawver, & Rudy Ritz
Student teaching is one of the most profound opportunities that teaching candidates experience as part of their preparation program (Clark, Byrnes, & Sudweeks, 2015). This process is an opportunity for the student to make the transition from student to professional educator and take knowledge of theory and change it, through experience, into practice. During student teaching, university students are expected to mirror the actual job expectations of their cooperating teachers which include all areas of the three-circle model of agricultural education (classroom teaching, FFA, SAE activities) in addition to the roles of program administrator, college student, and adult educator…

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