AgEBB-MU CAFNR Extension

Green Horizons

Volume 21, Number 1
January 2017

Agroforestry Curriculum for Missouri High School Educators: Exposing Future Agricultural Science and FFA Students to New Career Options

By Hannah Hemmelgarn | University of Missouri, Center for Agroforestry and
By Michael Gold | University of Missouri, Center for Agroforestry

A key component of the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry's (UMCA) mission is the education and training of those who are "empowered to make a difference locally, regionally, and globally" for the "long-term future of rural and urban working farms and forests". Ongoing education and outreach efforts vary in breadth and depth and include field days, conferences, webinars, intensive trainings (e.g., Agroforestry Academy), and an online graduate certificate and master's program. Key target audiences include landowners, natural resource professionals and a wide variety of educators who work in outreach and extension.

In 2016, the Center for Agroforestry's education efforts branched out to reach a new audience: high school agricultural science and FFA educators and students. For over a decade, agricultural education research has recommended a greater focus on "sustainable agriculture" practices in high school agricultural education programs in which students can obtain a foundational understanding of the subject area. However, agroforestry, whose economic, environmental, and social benefits include new career opportunities, greater farm resiliency, increased carbon sequestration, habitat diversification and improved soil and water conservation, has yet to enter the high school arena, until now.

Over the past year, graduate research assistant and agroforestry masters candidate Hannah Hemmelgarn applied her experiential education background to create an agroforestry curriculum unit and teacher training program for the state of Missouri. The unit includes two modules that provide an overview of the five recognized temperate agroforestry practices, and opportunities for students to apply problemsolving skills for planning and management for agroforestry on diversified farms. In July, 2016, Hemmelgarn, with Dr. Michael Gold and Dr. Hank Stelzer, held the first Agroforestry Summer Institute to train a group of 15 high school agricultural educators from across the state to use the curriculum materials. The agroforestry unit, with extended resources, will be included in the FFA-DESE statewide curriculum materials starting fall 2017.

In addition, Hemmelgarn and her team of advisors, Dr. Michael Gold, Dr. Hank Stelzer, and Dr. Anna Ball were awarded a $70,334 Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Professional Development Program grant to continue the project over the next three years. During that time, the group will expand the curriculum, and train a total of 90 Missouri high school agricultural educators, who in turn will reach thousands of high school agriculture science and FFA students. SARE has formally recognized the project as "the 2016 Paula Ford Professional Development Program Proposal of the Year".

More than half of the students who participate in the Missouri's high school agricultural education program will pursue careers and further education in the field (2015 MO Ag. Ed. Report). Exposing young people to agroforestry practices broadens their understanding of what constitutes a "sustainable agriculture". UMCA aims not only to expose high school students to these concepts, but also to grow a network of agroforestry educators and practitioners. In addition to collaboration with Missouri High School educators, the MU SARE PDP project is partnering with the Savanna Institute ( to grow the knowledge networks for teachers and students using the Savanna Institute's "Perennial Map" ( The Savanna Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on production agroforestry in the Midwest US working in collaboration with farmers and scientists to develop perennial food and fodder crops within multifunctional polyculture systems grounded in ecology and inspired by the savanna biome. This online map will locate growers and buyers, researchers and supporters of agroforestrybased products. Looking into the future, the hope is to expand the distribution of these agroforestry educational materials to high schools throughout the US and Canada.

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