Date

6-2014

Degree Name

BS in Agricultural Science

Department

Agricultural Education and Communication Department

Advisor(s)

Ann DeLay

Abstract

Nearly 52% of the 72,445 [state] students enrolled in agricultural education are Hispanic. However, when many of these programs participate in leadership development activities beyond the local level, the diversity of their participants fails to mirror that of their enrollment. Many teachers are at a loss as to what they can do to cultivate the talent of these students.

In this phenomenological study, a focus group interview was conducted at a [state] high school agriculture program with the reputation for strong Hispanic student engagement. Nine Hispanic agriculture students were invited to participate. The purpose of the study was to interpret the phenomenon of Hispanic student engagement in a secondary agriculture program.

The following questions guided the work: How do Hispanic students (1) perceive, and (2) experience the secondary agriculture program?

Findings suggest the accumulation of strong family support, financial help from the community, and welcoming advisors create positive opportunities for program experiences. The students perceptions of the program are related to keeping their school’s legacy alive, maintaining a family-like atmosphere to promote an inviting environment for prospective members, and to not only preserve but surpass the achievements and memories previous students have built. Final recommendations include having: (1) teachers establish a strong connection with students and their families and (2) older students in the program mentoring new students.