Date of Graduation

12-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural & Extension Education (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Agricultural Education, Communications and Technology

Advisor

Jill Rucker

Committee Member

Donna L. Graham

Second Committee Member

Jason K. Apple

Third Committee Member

Jefferson D. Miller

Abstract

This study sought to characterize perceptions of agricultural leadership programs in colleges of agriculture, food, life, human, or environmental sciences at 1862 land-grant institutions. Twenty-six academic programs were identified with a major, minor, graduate degree, specialization, concentration, or certificate in agricultural leadership. Programs were identified through analyzing the APLU and USDA NIFA websites, searching academic college websites, and contacting deans and departments heads. Objectives included identifying programs, describing the need for programs, describing evolution that has taken place within the discipline, describing faculty recommendations for future development and growth in the field, and examining why faculty believe programs are relevant. Mixed methods were employed with a survey instrument, document analysis, and qualitative interview. Quantitative data were analyzed via descriptive statistics, and qualitative data were analyzed using thematic analysis, including open and axial coding. Twenty-two respondents completed the survey, while 19 completed the interview. Agricultural leadership was formed from a need in the agricultural industry but holds roots in agricultural and extension education. The discipline evolved by taking on a broad appeal, as well as experiencing growth through the expansion of community and rural leadership development. Faculty recommended collaborative efforts across the discipline through establishing a professional organization, but also indicated a unified vision was imperative for growth. Faculty were asked about the outlook of the field and foresaw growth nationwide. When referencing the relevancy of agricultural leadership’s role in academia, two themes emerged: a) agricultural leadership creates leaders through developing “human capital,” and b) graduates promote industry growth through their political, policy, and public influence. Results aligned with research indicating the discipline should be analyzed to promote a unified vision for sustainability. This vision includes collaboration to establish a set of standards and proficiencies to prepare students for roles as industry leaders. The study identified the top agricultural leadership programs at 1862 land-grant institutions, which were the University of Florida, Texas A&M University, the University of Nebraska, Oklahoma State University, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Future recommendations for research included identifying perceptions of agricultural leadership beyond the scope of 1862 land-grant institutions.

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