Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Agriculture Education, Extension, and Evaluation
This study addressed a deficiency in the agricultural literacy of the U.S. population by focusing on the challenges that core subject teachers face when integrating agriculture into their curriculum. Using a phenomenological research approach, this investigation explored the lived experiences of Louisiana teachers who piloted a 4-H STEM curriculum, focusing on the growth in agricultural literacy of the teachers while instructing third and eighth-grade students on the agricultural-based and STEM-focused topic of embryology. Employing a transcendental phenomenological approach, I acknowledged my biases through reflexivity and adhered to ethical considerations, including informed consent and confidentiality. Key findings emerged through four themes regarding the stages that the teachers experienced during the curriculum pilot, ranging from brooding and incubation to hatching and chick placement. The curriculum emerged as a catalyst for highlighting the relevance of agriculture, fostering community development, positively impacting teachers' agricultural literacy, empowerment through agricultural education and preparation, promoting civic engagement, and emphasizing the importance of teaching standards in curriculum selection. Meanwhile, the conclusions underscored the transformative potential of agricultural curriculum integration, affecting teachers' perceptions, community building, civic engagement, and adherence to educational standards. My recommendations advocated for future quantitative assessments of teacher agricultural literacy, exploration of community development implications, and investigations into civic engagement effects. Finally, the study's implications suggest a need for collaborative efforts in mainstream curriculum integration, recognizing agriculture’s role in fostering critical thinking and civic engagement, challenging traditional approaches, and emphasizing intentional agricultural literacy development through innovative pathways.
Ahrens, Crystal Rose, "INCUBATING EDUCATION: THE LIVED EXPERIENCES OF LOUISIANA ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHERS WHEN PILOTING A 4-H STEM SCHOOL ENRICHMENT CURRICULUM" (2024). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 6344.