Date of this Version
In Understanding Agriculture: New Directions for Education, the National Research Council (1988) reported, “Too many Americans know very little about the social and economic relevance of agriculture in the United States, and agriculture is too important a subject to be taught only to a relatively small proportion of students enrolled in vocational agriculture” (p.1). Now over 20 years later, this problem is still relevant. During the 2007-2008 school year 10.5 percent of Nebraska high school students were enrolled in an agricultural education course. This may be the result of an absence of agricultural education in the largest four school districts in Nebraska. With the future of agriculture in the hands of our youth, and policy decisions being made by the urban majority, it may be more important now than ever to provide agricultural education in urban areas. The purpose of this study was to conduct an evaluation for development for an urban Nebraska environmental and agricultural systems education program through the evaluation of school culture. Eight administrators from seven school districts in Nebraska were interviewed. The results of the interviews indicated that when describing their school’s culture, administrators cited demographic information, post-high school activities and the students’ limited awareness of agriculture. Administrators felt strongly that public relations would play a vital role if agriculture were incorporated into their school’s culture. It was further explained that the proposed program would serve the purpose of preparing students for college and careers. The structure of the program was characterized as a sequence of courses, driven by student interest, comprised of hands-on science focused curriculum. Potential challenges identified were resources and justification of program relevancy. It was further suggested that using agriculture as a context to teach other subjects may be a viable alternative to implementing an environmental and agricultural systems program. Recommendations for the implementation of a program were given, and future research was identified.