See more from this Session: Experiential Learning and Action Education: II
Monday, October 17, 2011
Henry Gonzalez Convention Center, Hall C, Street Level
As urban populations continue to grow in diversity and size, interest in meeting food security needs through urban agriculture is skyrocketing, making it critical that today’s students become effective food system leaders trained to work with diverse populations. NC State’s Soil Agroecology course has for 3 years partnered with the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle NGO in community garden projects based in low-income Raleigh neighborhoods. Students were initially found to lack skills to effectively engage middle-school aged children, educate them on the complex topics of soil science and sustainable agriculture, and remain sensitive and aware of the cultural and socioeconomic differences that exist between student-teacher and community member. To better prepare students we developed a cultural competence guide and training focused on teaching diverse audiences. In Fall 2010, students in the course underwent training prior to embarking on their service-learning experience. Student pre and post service-learning experience interviews and survey data are being triangulated with observational findings collected during student teaching to evaluate the efficacy of the training and determine areas for improvements. Results show that soil science students who engaged in a service-learning experience rate themselves as having a greater ability to teach diverse audiences than soil students who had no such experience. Soil Agroecology students report improved professional cultural competence skills as a result of their experience and credit the training session for preparing them to work with and teach the members of their assigned diverse community.