Understanding and Fostering Geoscience Student attitudes toward Agricultural Careers

Wednesday 4:30pm-5:45pm Beren Auditorium
Poster Session Part of Wednesday Poster Session

Session Chairs

Jeremy Aber, Middle Tennessee State University
Henrique Momm, Middle Tennessee State University
Racha El Kadiri, Middle Tennessee State University
Dawn Lemke, Alabama A & M University
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 have been developed for 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. Accompanying these developed teaching modules, surveys designed to quantitatively measure students' attitudes towards the agricultural industry and future careers in agriculture were developed and administered twice, before and after each educational module was presented. In addition to agricultural attitudes, surveys contain questions designed to measure knowledge base specific to each course and student demographics. Changes in students' attitude towards careers in agriculture applying geospatial technology, their demographics, and overall trend at multiple levels are discussed. Recommendations are provided on how these vital skills can be developed and linked with increased awareness and interest for positions in the modern agriculture practices, such as sustainable watershed management, precision agriculture, conservationists, and government and non-profit scientists/analysis.