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N.G. Creamer

While enrollment is dropping in many commodity-based curriculums, one key program area of interest to many students is sustainable agriculture. Some land-grant universities are initiating undergraduate and graduate programs, or concentrations in Sustainable Agriculture, to meet this student demand. Many smaller colleges (for example, Delaware Valley College, Slippery Rock Univ., and Warren Wilson College) are also offering a focus in this area as well. These programs often include an experiential learning component through internships and other hands-on activities. Examples of some of the courses being offered include Principles and Practices of Sustainable Agriculture, Agricultural Ecosystems, Sustainable Agriculture Processes in Plant Horticulture and Animal Husbandry, and Fertility Considerations in Regenerative Agriculture. In this presentation, I summarize ongoing programs nationwide, and discuss the impact these programs are having on student enrollment.

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Damian M. Parr and Mark Van Horn

In the mid-1970s, University of California, Davis, students concerned about the environmental and social consequences of modern agriculture were interested in exploring the practice and theory of “alternative” agriculture. These students organized to create new educational opportunities to address needs that were not being met by the existing curricula. These student-initiated opportunities emphasized interdisciplinary analyses of agriculture and field-based experiential learning; they included student-organized courses and the development of the Student Experimental Farm (SEF) as a site for student education, research, demonstration, and extension projects. Over the next three decades, the SEF developed diverse experiential educational projects, classroom and field-based courses focusing on sustainable and organic agriculture, and several departments and programs offered additional, related courses and curricula. In 2004, an interdisciplinary curriculum committee within the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences began to develop an undergraduate major in sustainable agriculture. A team of faculty and students within the committee conducted a broad stakeholder survey of agricultural practitioners, academics, students, and alumni to help inform decisions regarding what content, skills, and experiences to include in the curriculum. The survey findings reinforced the original curricular and pedagogical themes articulated and acted upon by students 30 years prior. The proposed curriculum is aimed at integrating disciplinary and interdisciplinary coursework in natural and social sciences, significant on- and off-campus experiential learning, and an emphasis on professional and interpersonal problem-solving and communication skills. Educational theory supports these diverse educational approaches and is useful in helping design courses and curricula in organic and sustainable agriculture.

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John A. Biernbaum, Mathieu Ngouajio, and Laurie Thorp

How do you teach community supported agriculture (CSA) principles, small-scale organic farming, and local food issues at a major land grant university and develop related small-scale farming research and outreach? You create a place and opportunities for students, staff, and faculty to work together with the soil and plants to raise food in a non-classroom farm setting. After several years of discussion and obtaining funding, the Michigan State University (MSU) Student Organic Farm (SOF) CSA started in May 2003 with 25 memberships and increased to 50 after 1 year. The farm allows experiential learning of CSA management, crop selection, scheduling, maintenance, harvest, and organic farming methods. The CSA helps many MSU students and faculty see the value of supporting local organic food systems. With more than 3 years of experience working with students to run the SOF and the CSA, we are in the process of developing an organic farming certificate program. A total of 40 credits will include 12 months on campus plus a 16-week on-farm internship. The program has three major components: 1) organic farming courses with seven one-credit courses; 2) horticultural crop production courses with eight courses for a total of 15 credits; and 3) approximately 20 credits of experiential course work combined with classroom and independent learning.

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Amy Dirks and Kathryn Orvis*

Research has shown that hands-on, experiential learning is very effective in the classroom and school gardening utilizes this method of learning. Gardening has been shown to have many positive effects on children including in academic areas. Of the youth gardening programs that exist, little research has been done with the Junior Master Gardener® program to evaluate it for its use in the classroom. JMG® is a youth gardening program designed to teach aspects of horticulture and environmental science through hands-on activities in both informal and formal learning environments. A case study of one particular classroom evolved from a larger evaluation study of the JMG® program in Indiana third grade classrooms. Research with this classroom utilized a mixed approach to acquire quantitative and qualitative data of knowledge and attitudes toward science, horticulture, and the environment. Quantitative measurements were made pre, post, and post-post (after summer break) the program. Qualitative methods included weekly classroom observations during the study, student post and post-post program evaluations, and post program teacher evaluations. Results indicated that students had significant levels of knowledge and positive attitude gain from pre to post tests. Observations and evaluations supported the quantitative results showing that the students and teacher found the JMG® program to be valuable in the classroom, as well as enjoyable which may lead to more student interest in science. Through this case-study post-post program assessment showed that the students retained a significant amount of positive attitudes toward science, horticulture and the environment.

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C.B. McKenney, R.E. Durham, and E.B. Peffley

The horticulture faculty at Texas Tech Univ. has developed an introductory horticulture laboratory course offered asynchronously through several media. A print version has been developed as a traditional correspondence course. Students can also choose to access the course over the World Wide Web with laboratory instruction provided from an accompanying CD-ROM. The course is based on an introductory horticulture textbook and is supplemented by additional information. Students conduct the laboratory exercises at a location of their choice and return photographs or video tapes of their results along with a formal lab report. Self-help exercises, worksheets, and proctored exams are submitted by correspondence or electronically via the World Wide Web. The most challenging aspect of this project was the development of laboratory exercises that ensured adequate experiential learning. This was accomplished by using easily accessible materials for laboratories that would allow students to apply the scientific method. A CD-ROM version of the lab includes compressed video segments used to demonstrate laboratory techniques. Details of these laboratory components and samples of student work will be presented.

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Rick Bates

Global positioning system (GPS) and geographic information system (GIS) technologies are at the cutting edge of an emerging agricultural revolution called site-specific management. Anticipated benefits are both economic and environmental because in this system, herbicides, fertilizers and other inputs are placed only where needed in the precise amounts required. The opportunities for site-specific management of crops, soils, and pests are innumerable. However, most students of agriculture and land resource sciences have little, if any, experience with the GPS and GIS technologies that provide these new opportunities. Beginning in 1995, efforts were undertaken to integrate GPS/GIS technology into the College of Agriculture curriculum. The process began with GPS/GIS training workshops for local and regional faculty. Key faculty modified curriculum within several departmental options and produced instructional modules for 12 different agriculture science courses. Experiential learning opportunities were developed and in some classes, farmer practitioners of site-specific management participated with students in identifying management problems and solutions. Instructional modules and active learning exercises were formally evaluated as to their effects on enhanced student decisionmaking skills and competency in GPS/GIS applications. Recently the new course LRES 357 “GPS/GIS Applications” was added to the curriculum and work is underway to place this course on-line.

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Kenneth R. Schroeder and Janet E. Schroeder

According to brain-based learning theory, learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat. Effective learning occurs when students are immersed in the educational experience, challenged yet not threatened, and encouraged to actively process information. All of these components are part of simulation or role-play games. With these basic concepts in mind, we approached the challenge of enhancing student learning in a plant identification course taught in a large class setting. Considering that plant identification requires some basic detective skills, and the popularity of criminal investigation television programming, we designed a role-play exercise involving case files, investigation zones, and detective teams. As a spin-off from the television shows “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “CSI: Miami,” the exercise was coined “CSI: Manhattan, Conifer Site Investigation in Manhattan, Kansas.” It was designed to fit into a 50-minute class period. Throughout the exercise, detective teams (students) needed to collectively locate and identify plants based on previous knowledge and clues within the case files and at the sites. Upon completion, plant specimens were checked in and identification logs discussed in order to provide immediate feedback and reinforcement of learning. Students enjoyed the exercise, offering positive feedback and conversations about the exercise throughout the balance of the semester. Six months later, while walking past one of the investigation sites, students remembered the site, exercises performed, and the plant name. The exercise includes both interactive and experiential learning components. This session will discuss the “CSI” exercise and its value in linking action to information.

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Rolston St. Hilaire and James M. Thompson

Strong linkages among 2-year community colleges and 4-year universities are likely to foster the transition of more students into higher education and enhance student diversity. Two New Mexico educational institutions, Doña Ana Branch Community College (a 2-year community college) and New Mexico State University (a 4-year university), offered a landscape construction class as a joint course offering for students at both institutions. The objective of this educational approach was to develop a system that facilitates the seamless integration of compatible curricula from a community college and a university. Course evaluations showed that 63% of students enrolled in the combined class rated the combining of a university and community college class as an above average or excellent model of education. When asked to rate whether classroom materials and laboratory activities supported learning, 94% of the class rated those materials as excellent. Eighty-eight percent of students rated the presentation of subject matter as above average or excellent when asked if the subject matter was presented in an interesting manner. Students valued the experiential learning projects and would highly recommend the course to their peers. In this redesigned course, women and minorities constituted 63% of the class, suggesting that this educational approach has the potential to retain a large number of underrepresented groups in landscape horticulture. We conclude that this collaborative approach for teaching landscape horticulture is likely to enhance horticultural education and foster a seamless educational experience for students who transition from a community college to a university. Also, this educational approach could serve as a model for curricula that combine practical knowledge with advances in science and technology.

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Rolston St. Hilaire and James M. Thompson

Strong linkages among 2-year community colleges and 4-year universities are likely to foster the transition of more students into higher education and enhance student diversity. Two New Mexico educational institutions, Doña Ana Branch Community College (a 2-year community college) and New Mexico State University (a 4-year university), offered a landscape construction class as a joint course offering for students at both institutions. The objective of this educational approach was to develop a system that facilitates the seamless integration of compatible curricula from a community college and a university. Course evaluations showed that 63% of students enrolled in the combined class rated the combining of a university and community college class as an above average or excellent model of education. When asked to rate whether classroom materials and laboratory activities supported learning, 94% of the class rated those materials as excellent. Eighty-eight percent of students rated the presentation of subject matter as above average or excellent when asked if the subject matter was presented in an interesting manner. Students valued the experiential learning projects and would highly recommend the course to their peers. In this redesigned course, women and minorities constituted 63% of the class, suggesting that this educational approach has the potential to retain a large number of underrepresented groups in landscape horticulture. We conclude that this collaborative approach for teaching landscape horticulture is likely to enhance horticultural education and foster a seamless educational experience for students who transition from a community college to a university. Also, this educational approach could serve as a model for curricula that combine practical knowledge with advances in science and technology.

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community college and a university collaborate on a landscape construction course Two New Mexico educational institutions, Doña Ana Branch Community College and New Mexico State University, integrated collaborative and experiential learning projects in a