Urban Youth Perceptions of Agriculture

Sharon Jean-Phillipe, Jennifer Richards, Kimberly Gwinn, Caula Beyl


To change public perceptions, particularly from urban populations, of agriculture and natural resources (ANR) fields, the University of Tennessee developed a model of strategic educational recruitment to extend beyond traditional college fair experiences to educate underrepresented candidates. The High School Agricultural Education Initiative (HSAI) provided 10th-grade students with opportunities to: (a) gain knowledge of and appreciation for disciplines in agriculture and natural resources, (b) learn about college admissions standards, (c) network with college students and staff to learn about campus resources, and (d) understand how a college education improves professional opportunities. The HSAI (n = 122) was effective at increasing urban high school student knowledge of postsecondary opportunities in agriculture and natural resources, particularly with regards to ANR career paths. Additionally, students placed high value on the importance of scholarships and they believed that their parents would be supportive of majoring in an ANR discipline. The HSAI program targeted 10th-grade students for a one-time intervention, however, in further reflection and based on the results of this study, establishing long-term partnerships with Title I urban high schools may be more effective at increasing the number of youth who actually apply and enroll in ANR programs in college.


agricultural and natural resources education; agricultural careers; college-high school partnerships

Full Text:



American Association of University Women. (1992). How schools shortchange girls: A study of major findings of girls and education. Washington, D.C.; American Association of University Women.

Anderson, J. C., & Kim, E. (2009). Youth leadership development: Perceptions and preferences of urban students enrolled in a comprehensive agriculture program. Journal of Agricultural Education, 50(1), 8-20.

Arrington, L. R., & Price, W. N. (1983, December). Relationship of vocational agriculture student satisfaction to selected student, school and program variables. Paper presented at the Tenth Annual National Agricultural Education Research Meeting, Anaheim, CA.

Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Boekeloo, B. O., Jones, C., Bhagat, K., Siddiqui, J., & Wang, M. Q. (2015). “The role of intrinsic motivation in the pursuit of health science-related careers among youth from underrepresented low socioeconomic populations.” Journal of Urban Health-Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, 92(5), pp. 980-994.

Bowen, B.E. (1987, December). A minority perspective on minorities in agriculture. The Agricultural Education Magazine, 60(6), 3-4.

Bowen, B.E. (1994, June). Reflections on the need for diversity: Desegregation vs. integration. The Agricultural Education Magazine, 66(12), 6-8.

Bowman, M.L. & Shepard, C.L. (1985). Introducing minorities to natural resource career opportunities. Ohio Journal of Science, 85(l), 29-33.

Catsambis, S. (1995). Gender, race, ethnicity, and science education in the middle grades. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 32(3), 243-257.

Cecchettini, C.L., Sommer, R., & Leising, J.G. (1992). Australians students’ perceptions of agricultural careers. Journal of Agricultural Education Spring 1992:30-37.

Dick, T P., & Rallis, S. F. (1991). Factors and influences on high school students’ career choices. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 22, 281-292.

Drew, J. C., Oli, M. W., Rice, K. C., Ardissone, A. N., Galindo-Gonzalez, S., Sacasa, P. R., … Triplett, E. W. (2015). Development of a distance education program by a land-grant university augments the 2-year to 4-year STEM pipeline and increases diversity in STEM. PLoS One 10(4). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0119548

Dumas, J. A. (2014). Factors that influence Black and Latino high school students to pursue careers in agriculture (Unpublished master’s thesis). Pennsylvania State University, State College.

Dyer, J. E., Breja, L. M., & Andreasen, R. J. (1999). Attitudes of college of agriculture freshmen toward agriculture. Journal of Agricultural Education 40(2):1-10.

Dyer, J. E., Lacey, R., & Osborne, E. W. (1996). Attitudes of University of Illinois College of Agriculture freshmen. Journal of Agricultural Education 37, 33-42.

Faulkner, P.E., Baggett, C.D., Bowen, C.F., & Bowen, B.E. (2009). Attitudes, educational, and career choices of food and agricultural sciences institute participants. Journal of Agricultural Education 50(1):45-56.

Faze, L. B., Wingenbach, G., Rutherford, T., & Wolfskill, L. A. (2011). Effects of a recruitment workshop on selected urban high school students’ self-efficacy and attitudes toward agriculture as a subject, college major, and career. Journal of Agricultural Education 52(4):123-135.

Flemming, M. J., & Grace, D.M. (2015). Eyes on the future: The impact of a university campus experience day on students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds. Australian Journal of Education, 59(1), pp. 82-96.

Henry, K. A., Talbert, B. A., & Morris, P. V. (2014). Agricultural education in an urban charter school: Perspectives and challenges. Journal of Agricultural Education, 55(3), 89-102.

Hunte, C.N. (1992). The African experience in agriculture. Agriculture and Human Values, 9(l), 11-14.

Jones, K. R., & Bowen, B. E. (1998). A qualitative assessment of teacher and school influences on African American enrollments in secondary agricultural science courses. Journal of Agricultural Education, 39(2), 19–29.

Kuijpers, M., Meijers, F., & Gundy, C. (2011). The relationship between learning environment and career competencies of students in vocational education. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 78(1), 21–30. DOI:10. 1016/j.jvb.2010.05.005

Larke, A., Jr., & Barr, T. P. (1987, December). Promoting minority involvement in agriculture. The Agricultural Education Magazine, 60(6), 6-7.

Lawrence, S., Rayfield, J., Moore, L. L., & Outley, C. (2013). An analysis of FFA chapter demographics as compared to schools and communities. Journal of Agricultural Education, 54(1), 207-219.

Lent, R. W., Brown, S. D., & Hackett, G. (1994). Toward a unifying social cognitive theory of career and academic interest, choice, and performance. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 45(1), 79-122.

Linn, M. C., & Hyde, J. S. (1989). Gender, mathematics, and science. Educational Research, 18, 17-19.

Martin, C. K, Erete, S., & Pinkard, N. (August, 2015). Developing focused recruitment strategies to engage youth in informal opportunities. Proceedings of the Research in Equity and Sustained Participation in Engineering Computing and Technology, Charlotte, NC,USA, 1. doi: 10.1109/RESPECT.2015.7296522

Mason, E., & Hansen, J. (2004). Closing the color gap in teaching: A study on African American middle school students’ perceptions of teaching. National Forum of Teacher Education Journal, 14(3), 1–11.

Newsom-Stewart, M. & Sutphin, H. D. (1997). How tenth grade students perceive agriculture and environmental science: Comparison by gender and ethnicity. Journal of Agricultural Education 35(3): 50- 56.

Oakes, J. (1990). Opportunities, achievement, and choice; Women and minority students in science and mathematics. Review of Research in Education, 16, 153-222.

Office of Institutional Research. (2017). Official enrollment statistics: Fall 2016. Retrieved from https://oira.utk.edu/reports/fb.enrollment-stats?year=201640&college=Agri%20Sci%20and%20Natural%20Resources&&& on July 18, 2017.

Osborne, E. W., Dyer, J. E. (2000). Attitudes of Illinois agriscience students and their parents toward agriculture and agricultural education programs. Journal of Agricultural Education 41(3), 50-59.

Outley, C. W. (2008). Perceptions of agriculture and natural resource careers among minority students in a national organization. In D. J. Chavez, P. L. Winter, & J. D. Absher (Eds.), Recreation visitor research: Studies of diversity, (pp. 139-153). Albany, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station.

Rawls, W.J. & Thomas, S. (1994). Analysis of student educational levels on knowledge of and interest in clusters of work-traits related to selected food and agricultural science careers. Summary of research series No. 3. Baton

Rouge, LA: Southern University and A&M College, Department of Vocational Education.

Scofield, G. G. (1995, March). College of agriculture new student profile. Paper presented at the Central Region 49th Annual Research Conference in Agricultural Education, St. Louis, MO.

Smith, B., & Baggett, C. (2012). Perceptions of agriculture and perceived enrollment barriers to agricultural programs of select southern New Jersey high school students. NACTA Journal, 56(1), 48-56.

Swanson, J. C. (1972). Beyond thoughts on knowledge and attitude effects upon behavior. The Journal of School Health, XIII(6), 363-365.

Thompson, J. C. & Russell, E. B. (1993). Beliefs and intentions of counselors, parents, and students regarding agriculture as a career choice. Journal of Agricultural Education, 34(4), 55-63.

Toyokawa, T., & McLoyd, V. C. (2011). Work socialization and adolescents’ work-related values in single-mother African American families. Journal of Career Development, 38(5), 1–19.

U.S. Department of Education. (n.d.). Improving basic programs operated by local educational agencies (Title I, Part A). Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/programs/titleiparta/index.html

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2007). Status and trends in the education of racial and ethnic minorities. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2007/minoritytrends/figures/figure_7_3.asp?referrer=report

Vincent, S. K., Henry, A. L., Anderson, J. C. (2012). College major choice for students of color: Toward a model of recruitment for the agricultural education profession. Journal of Agricultural Education, 53(4), 187-200.

Wildman, M. & Torres, R. M. (2001). Factors identified when selecting a major in agriculture. Journal of Agricultural Education 42(2):46-56.

Wiley, Z. Z., Bowen, B. E., Bowen, C. F., & Heinsohn, A. L. (1997). Attitude formulation of ethnic minority students toward the food and agricultural sciences. Journal of Agricultural Education 38(2):21-29.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2017.497


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 Sharon Jean-Phillipe, Jennifer Richards, Kimberly Gwinn, Caula Beyl

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.