Date of this Version
White paper, June 2023. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Digital Commons.
This report presents findings from a pilot survey conducted among undergraduate and graduate students (N = 410) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln about students’ perspectives on technology usage, consumption, and sustainability in dairy production systems. An interdisciplinary research team developed the survey instrument and report. The main purpose of this pilot study was to create and administer survey items to support further research on experiential education and outreach opportunities related to robotics in small-scale dairy production and rural economic development. Descriptive findings indicated that most students had some familiarity with dairy production and the nutritional aspects of dairy products but expressed a desire to learn more. The majority of participants agreed that “The sustainability of our food system is important to me personally.” Among three statements about technology usage in dairy production, the statement “technology will improve the livelihoods of people working in agriculture” received the highest mean score, indicating that students largely agreed with this statement. Regarding animal welfare, students believed that caretakers should ensure the health of dairy cows. Many indicated that they think small dairy farms can be financially viable. Notably, most students agreed with the statement “I enjoy learning through immersive experiences (hands-on or virtual reality).” Half of the students expressed a high or moderate level of interest in agricultural-related careers, 80 percent showed a high or moderate interest in technology-related careers, and 82 percent demonstrated a high or moderate interest in careers in sustainability.