Source: UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA submitted to
CERTIFICATE PROGRAM IN ORGANIC AGRICULTURE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
TERMINATED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
0206987
Grant No.
2006-38411-17042
Project No.
GEO-2006-03203
Proposal No.
2006-03203
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
ER
Project Start Date
Jun 15, 2006
Project End Date
Jun 14, 2010
Grant Year
2006
Project Director
Malladi, A.
Recipient Organization
UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
200 D.W. BROOKS DR
ATHENS,GA 30602-5016
Performing Department
HORTICULTURE
Non Technical Summary
Organics is the fastest growing sector of agriculture, but few educational programs exist in the southeastern USA to prepare students for careers in this field. This project will develop and implement a 15 credit hr interdisciplinary minor in organic agriculture with a large experiential learning component. An organic farm site will be developed in conjunction with the teaching rpogram to facilitate courses and serve an outreach function for organic agriculture education in the local community.
Animal Health Component
100%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
(N/A)
Applied
100%
Developmental
(N/A)
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
90360993020100%
Goals / Objectives
Objective 1: Create and implement a 15-hour certificate program in organic agriculture. At the University of Georgia, a certificate is essentially an interdisciplinary minor, consisting of 15 semester hours of coursework. The program (described under approach) consists of 9 hrs of required courses and 6 hrs of electives in the student's area of interest. Objective 2. Develop a certified organic farm on the grounds of the Horticulture Research Farm to support certificate program courses. The farm site will be used in all required courses and several elective courses since the program relies heavily on experiential learning for success (described under approach). Dean Scott Angle of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences is providing $50,000 for facilities related to the program not covered by USDA Challenge Grants program. The Department of Horticulture is providing land and equipment resources for the farm. The ultimate products obtained will be students receiving the Certificate in Organic Agriculture. The number of students participating in, and graduating from the program is easily measured. The average instructional program in the CAES has an enrollment of 42-48 students, which will be the initial target for the certificate program at the end of its 2nd year. We anticipate 75-100 students in the program by 2010. Certificate students will be better prepared for employment in the organic sector than those having only a course or two in organic agriculture. The experiential learning and research emphases will build confidence and credibility, which should translate into advantages when pursuing employment. Thus, employment with organic farms or related businesses is a measurable outcome. Four new courses and the supporting field and greenhouse sites are also measurable outcomes of the project, as is the credit hour production by these courses. The field and greenhouse sites are critical to the success of the experiential learning component of the program, and will showcase the program in recruiting brochures. We envision the organic farm site serving an important outreach function for the CAES. We will host public school field trips, grower groups, and other educators interested in organic agriculture. Thus, another outcome is the public service opportunities created by the site, and the more favorable public perception of CAES programs that result.
Project Methods
Objective 1: Create and implement a 15-hour certificate program in organic agriculture. At UGA, a certificate is an interdisciplinary minor consisting of 15 semester hours. Students can enter the program via two courses, both of which cover the basics of organic agriculture; this option creates flexibility in scheduling. AESC 3010 (Organic Agricultural Systems) will be taught during Fall Semester annually, and have a large enrollment cap (50-75 students). The existing course ECOL 3700 (Organic Agriculture) is taught during Maymester (an intensive 4-week enrollment period in May), and has a small enrollment cap (18 students). Ideally, the next course to be taken is AESC 3110 (Fertility & Pest Management in Organic Agriculture), taught Spring Semester, covering soil fertility and pest management considerations unique to the southeastern USA. The course has no prerequisites, and could be taken out of sequence, as scheduling conflicts are likely to arise for some students. AESC 4010 (Undergraduate Research in Organic Agriculture) functions as the capstone experience to the program, and thus would be taken in the final year. The course will be offered every semester to accommodate students schedules and spread the research projects throughout the year. Here, the Program Coordinator pairs the student with a faculty member having expertise in their area of interest, and a small research project is designed and conducted at the organic farm site. AESC 4110 (Organic Agriculture Seminar) is a 1-credit seminar for analyzing case studies, bringing in invited speakers (e.g., certification agents, organic growers), and scheduling student research project presentations. It must be taken during or following the semester that AESC 4010 is completed, as all students will present the results of their research projects in this course. Since emphasis is placed on flexibility, 6 additional hours of electives are chosen with the consent of the Program Coordinator. For example, courses could focus on economics for students with a policy/marketing orientation. Elective courses can be taken at any time, but preferably before the research project is conducted. The end result is a firm foundation in organic agriculture, complemented with a unique area of emphasis, and completed with capstone experiential learning and seminar courses. Objective 2. Develop a certified organic farm on the grounds of the Horticulture Research Farm to support certificate program courses. A 2-acre area has been selected for the organic farm site at the Horticulture Research Farm in Watkinsville, GA, 6 miles south of the UGA. A similar site will be developed near the organic plot as its conventional counterpart, allowing head-to-head comparisons of organic and conventional production methods. Two greenhouses, one for organic crops and the other for conventional, will be used for specialty crops and winter projects.

Progress 06/15/06 to 06/14/10

Outputs
Organic agriculture continues to be a field with rapid growth attracting a steady demand for graduates with knowledge and experience in organic production. A certificate program in organic agriculture was initiated at the University of Georgia in 2006. The main objectives of the program were: Objective 1: Create and implement a 15-hour certificate program in organic agriculture. A program in organic agriculture meeting the above objective was created in 2006. An inter-disciplinary team of faculty from various departments was brought together to achieve this objective. A curriculum was developed to fit the requirements of the 15 hour certificate program. Courses for this program were initially offered in the fall of 2006 and have been offered in all spring and fall semesters since. To date, 10 students have graduated with a Certificate in Organic Agrculture from the University of Georgia as a result of the project. Additionally, 52 students are currently enrolled in the program. While 5 students are expected to graduate with the certificate in the fall of 2010, an additional 7 students are expected to earn the certificate in May, 2011. The above data clearly demonstrate the growth and success of the program. Objective 2. Develop a certified organic farm on the grounds of the Horticulture Research Farm to support certificate program courses. A 2-care farm was developed and certified at the initiation of this program in 2006. The farm has developed over the period of the grant. It is currently used extensively by faculty as well as students for hands-on experience with organic production. Additonal area has been added to the existing farm in 2009-2010, thereby enhancing the scope of the program. Several equipment specifically meant for organic agriculture have been procured over the period of the grant. PRODUCTS: To date, 10 students have graduated with a Certificate in Organic Agriculture from the University of Georgia as a direct product of this project. Additionally, 52 students are currently enrolled in the program with potentially 12 of them obtaining the certificate over the next year. An organic farm capable of meeting the requirements of organic agriculture research and education has been developed through this project. OUTCOMES: The major outcomes of this project are the development of a Certificate Program in Organic Agriculture and the development of an organic farm. These resources are increasing awareness and educating students as well as the local community regarding organic agricultural production. DISSEMINATION ACTIVITIES: Several methods have been used to disseminate information regarding the project. During the initial years, posters on the project were presented at the annual meeting of Georgia Organics. In 2009, a poster on the certificate program was presented at the NACTA-SERD conference by the PI. Additional activities include display of information on the program at the Georgia Center and distribution of brochures. FUTURE INITIATIVES: Several directions are envisioned for further development of this program. One possibility is the development of the Certificate Program into a Major in Organic Agriculture. Additionally, increasing interest in local foods presents us with opportunities to integrate courses and/or information in organic agriculture with the above area to develop a program in Sustainable Agricultural Production.

Impacts
The Certificate Program in Organic Agrciulture has graduated 10 students to date. These students are expecteed to fill a void in the job market for personnel with knowledge and experience in organic agricultural production. The program has increased general awareness of organic production at the University. The organic farm developed directly as a part of the project, offers excellent teaching, research, and general education opportunities to the University of Georgia as well as the local communities.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 06/15/08 to 06/14/09

Outputs
Organic agriculture continues to be a field with rapid growth. A certificate program in organic agriculture was started at the University of Georgia in 2006. This program is designed to meet a growing interest among students in organic agricultural production systems. The program aims to train students as knowledgeable and experienced individuals capable of meeting a demand for qualified personnel in this field. An interdisciplinary team consisting of faculty with diverse expertise was assembled and four new courses were developed as part of this program. These courses have had steady and/or increasing enrollment over the last two years. One of the courses, AESC 4096 Organic Agriculture Seminar, was offered for the first time in the fall of 2008 and will be offered on a regular basis in the future. This course is designed to familiarize students with current concepts and issues in organic agriculture. Students also present their research findings or internship experiences in this course. As mentioned in the previous report, AESC 4095 'Undergraduate Research in Organic Agriculture' is a course offered every semester for students to gain research experience at the 2-acre organic farm (developed as part of this program). In 2008-2009, students were also provided an option to gain experience through internships at local organic farms in lieu of the research project requirement. Several students have performed internships at organic farms through this option, while some students have completed research projects under the guidance of faculty associated with this program. One of the most prominent achievements of this year is that the program has successfully graduated two students and currently has 27 students enrolled in it. The organic farm continued its growth in the last year. A vermiculture plot was developed over the last year and provides vermicompost for use at the organic farm. Produce from the organic farm was used for community supported agriculture last year on a trial basis. Currently, some of the produce from the organic farm is provided to a University dining service. The main future goals of the program are to continue aggressive recruitment into the certificate program and to develop it further into a major in organic agriculture. PRODUCTS: As part of the certificate program, an interdisciplinary team of faculty was assembled and four new courses were developed. The courses continue to attract an increasing number of students every year. A very significant product of the program over the last year is that two students have graduated with a certificate in organic agriculture from the University of Georgia (Fall 2008). Additionally, the current enrollment is at 27 students is likely to increase further. A significant product of the program is that the organic farm has developed the capacity to provide educational and research services in this field. The organic farm has increased its activities to include student research projects and installation of a vermicomposting unit. A community supported agriculture program was run through the farm last year. Some of the farm produce is currently supplied to a University dining service. OUTCOMES: The certificate program in organic agriculture has greatly enhanced general awareness of organic agricultural production among students. In addition to generating an interest in this production method, the program has also been successful at increasing awareness regarding possible job opportunities in the area. An additional outcome is the development of a collaboration to supply produce to a University dining service. This has lead to greater exposure for the program while supporting an interest in local food. DISSEMINATION ACTIVITIES: Fliers developed for the program were distributed at various venues to increase awareness of the certificate program. An informal activity was organized at the organic farm in August 2008. Students from various departments had an opportunity to interact with faculty and representatives of Georgia Organics. This was used as a venue for promoting the certificate program. The program coordinator attended the Georgia Organics meeting in 2009 and presented a poster at the venue. The PI attended the NACTA-SERD meeting in June 2009 and presented a poster on the program. Several tours have been organized to the organic farm to provide students and extension personnel with an appreciation for organic production. The University dining service displays information on the certificate program on days when food from the farm is available (Sustainable Fridays). FUTURE INITIATIVES: Active recruitment of students continues to be a major goal for the program. Another emerging goal is the conversion of the program into a major in organic agriculture. Increasing interest among students in this area would sustain such a major. An additional goal would be to increase the availability of produce from the organic farm at other dining services of the University as well.

Impacts
The certificate program in organic agriculture has provided a great opportunity for students with interest in organic and sustainable agriculture to gain knowledge and experience in this area. The program is training students to meet the demand for qualified personnel in this area within the organic agriculture industry in Georgia. The program has also been successful at increasing overall awareness of initiatives in organic and sustainable agriculture at the University of Georgia.

Publications

  • Abstract # 140: Certificate program in organic agriculture at the University of Georgia. 2009. North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture/SERD Annual Conference. June 17-20. Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK


Progress 06/15/07 to 06/14/08

Outputs
The objective of this project was to develop an organic agriculture certificate program at the University of Georgia. As part of this new program, four new courses had to be developed, and all four of these courses are now in place. AESC 3125 'Organic Agricultural Systems' was offered for the first time in the Spring of 2008, and will be offered on an annual basis. AESC 3126 'Fertility and Pest management in Organic Agriculture' was offered for the first time in the Fall of 2007 and will be offered in the Fall on an annual basis. AESC 4095 'Undergraduate Research in Organic Agriculture' is offered every semester, and has had several students so far. AESC 4096 Organic Agriculture Seminar' is being offered in the Fall of 2008 and is scheduled to be offered every Spring and Fall semester from now on. The initial intent of the certificate program was that every student would take AESC 4095 (research), but the faculty members involved in this program have decided that it would be better to allow students to either do a research project or an internship at an organic farm. Since many departments already have internship courses, no new course had to be developed to incorporate this change in the certificate program. We currently have 20 students enrolled in the certificate program, and we expect that we will have the first graduates of this program in December 2008. Our next goal will be to aggressively recruit additional students into this program. PRODUCTS: As part of this certificate program in organic agriculture, we have developed four new courses , which are now in place. AESC 3125 'Organic Agricultural Systems' was offered for the first time in the Spring of 2008, and will be offered on an annual basis. AESC 3126 'Fertility and Pest management in Organic Agriculture' was offered for the first time in the Fall of 2007 and will be offered in the Fall on an annual basis. AESC 4095 'Undergraduate Research in Organic Agriculture' is offered every semester and AESC 4096 'Organic Agriculture Seminar' will be offered for the first time this fall, and every spring and fall semester from then on. We also have developed an organic farm at the University of Georgia, which allows students to see how organic produce is raised (in the field, high tunnels, and greenhouse) and to get hands-on experience with organic farming. This farm also provides internship opportunities to students enrolled in the organic certificate program. A community supported agriculture (CSA) was started as part of the organic farm to assure that the produce from this farm would not go to waste. OUTCOMES: The new organic agriculture certificate program has resulted in new opportunities for students interested in organic and sustainable production. Before the start of this program, the University of Georgia had only one course (ECOL 3700, Organic Agriculture) in the area of organic agriculture, and none offered through the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The new program has greatly increased our students' exposure to organic agriculture and will make them more aware of opportunities and challenges in organic agriculture. DISSEMINATION ACTIVITIES: Fliers describing the program have been developed and are being distributed to students by various means, including recruiters for the college of agricultural and environmental sciences. We also will do recruiting in various courses to attract additional students to this program. We have attended the Georgia Organic Conference in the last two years to raise awareness of this program in Georgia's organic agriculture community and will partner with Georgia Organics to find internship opportunities for our students. A website (www.uga.edu/organic) has been developed to make it easy for students to enroll and find other relevant information about this program. FUTURE INITIATIVES: We are planning to aggressively recruit additional students in the near future and expect that we will be able to attract at least 20 students a year (close to the current maximum capacity of this program). We expect the CSA to grow from its 10 current members to probably 20 members in 2009. In addition, we are exploring possible collaboration with the University of Georgia's conference center to provide weekly fresh organic produce for their restaurant. This would be part of a 'sustainable Friday' theme at the restaurant. Information regarding the organic certificate program would be prominently featured on those days.

Impacts
The new certificate program in organic agriculture will allow University of Georgia students to obtain up-to-date, science-based information regarding organic agriculture, and will expose them to opportunities and challenges in this field. We expect that this program will make the University of Georgia a leader in organic agriculture education in the Southeast. This program will also train much needed people to enter into organic agriculture in Georgia. Demand for organic products greatly outpaces supply in Georgia, and our graduates may be able to help close this gap.

Publications

  • no progress to report at this time, 2008


Progress 06/15/06 to 06/14/07

Outputs
In the first year of this grant, we have developed the curriculum for the new certificate program in organic agriculture at the University of Georgia. This involved developing four new courses (introduction to organic agriculture, soil fertility and pest management in organic agriculture, research in organic agriculture, and a seminar series in organic agriculture). All courses have been approved by the university, and we are offering our first course (soil fertility and pest management in organic agriculture) in the fall of 2007. The certificate program as a whole has also been approved by the university and the board of regents, and 'organic agriculture' is now an official certificate program at the University of Georgia. As part of the first year activities, we also developed an organic farm site (it received USDA organic certification in the spring of 2007) and erected two greenhouses, one of which is certified organic. We have been able to obtain additional financial support from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences to construct a packing shed and cooler, which allows us to add a post-harvest and marketing component to our farm activities. Although this was not part of the original proposal, we felt that this was a valuable addition. Active recruiting of students will start in the fall of 2007, but we have seven students signed up for the program already, without having done any recruiting. So far, the project is on schedule. PRODUCTS: We have developed a website (www.uga.edu/organic) with all relevant information regarding this new program at the University of Georgia. In addition to providing basic information, this web site allows students to enroll for the certificate program. We have also developed a brochure to recruit students. Actual recruiting will start in the fall semester, not that all courses and the overall program have been apporved by the university and board of regents. OUTCOMES: We have developed a new, interdisciplinary certificate program in organic agroculture at the University of Georgia. The program involves faculty members from many different departments, and three colleges: arts and sciences, ecology, and agricultural and environmental sciences. The certificate program has been officially approved and is currently available to students. Traditionally, the University of Georgia has had little emphasis on organic production methods in its teaching programs, and this is a valuable addition to the curriculum. We hope to graduate the first students in this program in 2008. DISSEMINATION ACTIVITIES: We have publicized the new certificate program in organic agriculture through articles in the student newspaper, local newspapers, UGA magazines, and at the annual conference of Georgia Organics. Response to this publicity has great, with interest from people around the state, and even a farmer who is interested in developing an internship in organic agriculture on his farm. Georgia master gardeners have visited the organic farm for tours and to learn more about organic agriculture in general, and UGA's activities in this area specifically. FUTURE INITIATIVES: We are in contact with the University Health Center about promoting more consumption of fruits and vegetables, with an emphasis on locally grown and/or organic produce. The health center may provide peer counseling regarding better nutrition (only 10% of students eat enough fruit and vegetables). In th future we hope to add an outreach program to our teaching efforts. Many starting organic growers in Georgia have trouble finding the information they need, and with our teaching program and organic farm, we are in a good position to provide farmers with information on organic production.

Impacts
We have been able to get four new courses and the organic certificate program approved by the university. This has greatly increased the availability of organic agriculture courses on campus, and has made this topic accessible to students from all majors, not just those related to agriculture.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period