Expanding opportunities for underrepresented students in agriculture through recruitment, experiential learning, and agricultural literacy.
Stanislaus State has been awarded a USDA NIFA Grant in Agriculture. The project addresses several USDA/NIFA Priorities: developing an instructional sustainable agriculture garden; supporting AgEdventure and school garden workshops; delivering USDA (e.g. NRCS or FSA) and industry internships; and eliminating financial barriers for students through six annual scholarships all designed to recruit and retain underrepresented students.
Objective 1: Increase the Recruitment and Retention of Underrepresented Students by 10%. This project is designed to increase the number of underrepresented students recruited into the Stanislaus State Agriculture program from partner HSI community colleges, and to increase the retention and completion rates for those underrepresented students. Currently, the percentage of students who identify themselves as Hispanic within the Agriculture program is still significantly below the percentage of Hispanics in the University's service region and below the percentage of Hispanics attending the University as a whole. To increase the number of underrepresented students in the Agriculture program, the project will provide scholarships for students transferring into the program as well as continuing students, making it possible for academically-outstanding underrepresented students to begin and complete the Agriculture program. In addition to reducing financial barriers, this project will increase recruitment efforts aimed at underrepresented students attending HSI community colleges and will reinforce an inter-institutional network to improve curriculum articulation and transfer coordination between agriculture programs at HSI community colleges and the Agriculture program at Stanislaus State.
Objective 2: Develop Experiential Learning Opportunities. To improve retention, the quality of education, career preparation, and job prospects for Agriculture students, this project will expand required internships into the Agriculture curriculum. The Agriculture program will develop and strengthen relationships with USDA agencies and industry partners. The internship opportunities created through these collaborations will provide students with real-life, hands-on industry experience that will enhance the quality of their education and expand their career opportunities. Agriculture students also will have the opportunity to develop leadership and presentation skills at regional and national agriculture and/or minority focused conferences.
Objective 3: Create a New Instruction Delivery System. This project will further develop and enhance a sustainable garden on the Stanislaus State campus, along with corresponding Agriculture curriculum. In addition, service learning opportunities for Agriculture students, several school garden courses for teachers that promote school gardens and healthy eating choices for K-6 students, an annual Agricultural Awareness Day for local 3rd grade elementary students, and an annual sustainable farming workshop for faculty, students and community members will be conducted. The education of Agriculture students will be enhanced by the integration of hands-on experience into the academic curriculum, and the local community will be better informed regarding sustainable farming practices. In the process, relationships will be developed and strengthened between the Stanislaus State Agriculture program and the Service Learning Center, local school districts, the local agricultural industry, and the community.
Peggy Hauselt and Mark E. Bender
This project was supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2010-38422-21213 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.