Understanding and Fostering Geoscience Student attitudes toward Agricultural Careers

Authors: Henrique Momm, Middle Tennessee State University, Racha El Kadiri, Middle Tennessee State University, Jeremy Aber*, Middle Tennessee State University, Dawn Lemke, Alabama A&M University
Topics: Geography Education, Agricultural Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: agriculture, undergraduate education, geography education, GIS, precision agriculture
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download



Recent studies have shown only three percent of college graduates would consider a career in agriculture. Conversely, the overwhelming challenge for increased food production is being met with technological advancements supported by professionals with a wide range of expertise, including geospatial technology. To instigate interest in Geosciences students for careers in agriculture, we employed a multi-level approach from freshmen to graduate level. Teaching modules were developed for courses in the geosciences program, including courses focused on geographic information systems, remote sensing, watershed modeling and management, and hydrogeology. Each of these courses touches on agricultural topics in their own way, whether they relate to basic knowledge, practices, or modeling tool application; the content of the modules highlights related agricultural connections to the course materials. Surveys designed to quantitatively measure students' attitudes towards the agricultural industry and future careers in agriculture were developed and administered before and after each educational module was presented. In addition to agricultural attitudes, surveys contain questions about student demographics as well as questions designed to measure subject knowledge specific to each course. Additionally, we administered surveys at a second university in geoscience courses to measure attitudes towards agriculture. Changes in student attitudes, their demographics, and overall trends at multiple levels are discussed. Recommendations are provided on how these skills can be developed and linked with increased awareness and interest in work in the modern agriculture sector, such as sustainable watershed management, precision agriculture, conservation, and government and non-profit science/analysis.

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