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Natural Sciences Education Abstract - Undergraduate Education

Student Outcomes from Experiential Learning on a Student-Run Certified Organic Farm

 

This article in NSE

  1. Vol. 43 No. 1, p. 16-24
     
    Received: Aug 06, 2013
    Published: March 7, 2014


    * Corresponding author(s): jennifer.reeve@usu.edu
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doi:10.4195/nse2013.08.0025
  1. Jennifer R. Reeve *a,
  2. Kelsey Hallb and
  3. Carol Kalkmanb
  1. a Dep. of Plants Soils and Climate, 4820 Old Main Hill, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-4820
    b Dep. of Applied Sciences, Technology and Education, Utah State Univ., Logan, UT 84322-2300

Abstract

The USU Student Organic Farm was initiated in April 2008 on 1 acre (0.4 ha) of land at Utah State University (USU). Students plant, weed, harvest, and market the produce on campus. Proceeds support the student farm in terms of operating expenses, equipment purchases, and modest student stipends. Since 2009, the students have operated a community supported agriculture (CSA) program to fund summer internships. Each year the most dedicated volunteers are recruited for the internships and two of the most experienced former interns return as farm managers. Students can also take the Student Farm Practicum for credit. This variable-credit course is offered in the spring, summer, and fall and complements the classroom-based course Fundamentals of Organic Farming. There are no prerequisites for either course, and the goal is to attract students from all disciplines across campus. Both classes are registered as service learning classes with students required to participate in practical activities on the farm and reflect on their experience in writing. The essays were used for content analysis to demonstrate learning as a result of their involvement with the student farm. Students learned group work, decision making, personal initiative, research, and communication skills. Students working at other student-run organic farms could write journal entries or reflective papers that describe what they learn so that the benefits of experiential learning on student-run farms can be better documented.

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