Student Farms at United States Colleges and Universities: Insights Gained from a Survey of the Farm Managers

By Leis, Anna; Whittington, M. Susie et al. | NACTA Journal, March 2011 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Student Farms at United States Colleges and Universities: Insights Gained from a Survey of the Farm Managers

Leis, Anna, Whittington, M. Susie, Bennett, Mark, Kleinhenz, Matthew, NACTA Journal


Student farms at United States colleges and universities enhance curricula by integrating research, extension and teaching missions, reinforcing classroom instruction, and improving job training. Student farms are sites of agricultural production and marketing at which students have, through coursework and/or internships, opportunities to supplement classroom instruction with "real world" experience. Student farms and their influence on curricula began decades ago, but the number of farms and their impact have increased recently. Although increasingly numerous, the structure, programming, and operating principles of student farms have not been studied. A lack of knowledge regarding student farms hinders the development of new farms and ongoing success of existing farms. Therefore, an online survey of student farm managers was distributed in order to gain insights into the current status of student farms in the United States.

The data were used to determine that college and university student farms are diverse in operating characteristics. Though many groups contribute to successful farm operation, undergraduate students are the largest group to participate in and benefit from student farms. Working with a limited budget was the most significant challenge faced, though despite various challenges, farm managers on average, reported that their farms were operating successfully. Managers also indicated that their farm played a role in attracting students to attend their college or university.


"The land grant institution was created under the Morrill Act with the purpose of, among other things, ...teaching such branches of learning as are related to agriculture... "(Collier, 2002, p. 182). College and university student farms have been present on campuses throughout the United States for the duration of the passing of the Morrill Act. Student farms vary greatly in size and focus, but a common philosophy is their role in providing students with opportunities to gain valuable skills through applied experiences. In addition to acquiring various skills, involvement with a student farm allows students a concrete medium in which to solidify knowledge gained through coursework. Student farms currently operating across the United States offer a wide range of learning opportunities through which students can gain experience to supplement coursework, major programs and certificate programs, and provide opportunities for internships and volunteering.

The educational basis for inclusion of student farm opportunities in curricula is grounded on the idea that these opportunities serve as a form of experiential education. Stated simply, experiential education is learning by doing (Andreasen, 2004), and the basis of this type of education rests upon a foundation of four pillars, including learning in reallife contexts, learning by doing, learning through projects, and learning by solving problems. The essence of experiential education is that of engaging students to "solve problems inductively, actively use and explain knowledge through solving problems, and make connections and apply knowledge beyond the classroom and school, based on real-life problems" (Knobloch, 2003, p. 23).

John Dewey's name is associated with the term experiential education (Knobloch, 2003), and was an early proponent of this educational model. According to Dewey, "Education, in order to accomplish its ends both for the individual learner and for society must be based upon experience" (Dewey, 1938, p. 89). Many others serve as strong proponents of the experiential education model (Mak, 1992; McKeachie, 1999; Saddington, 1992). Thus, calls to incorporate experience-based learning into the curriculum in higher education have been widespread (Boyer Commission, 1998; National Leadership Council for Liberal Education & America's Promise, 2007; U.S. Department of Labor, 1991).

Recommendations to shift agricultural curricula to an experiential learning model, grounded in reallife situations and problems (Francis et al.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Student Farms at United States Colleges and Universities: Insights Gained from a Survey of the Farm Managers


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?