SAEA Student Committee

SAEA Student Committee’s Recent Survey and
New Student-led Webinar Series

Lorien E. MacAuley
Doctoral Candidate; Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education; Virginia Tech

In late June, the Sustainable Agricultural Education Association Student Committee held a meeting with SAEA’s student membership, which pulled together a cadre of students to brainstorm pressing issues in sustainable agricultural education, our recent survey results, how SAEA might represent student interests, and generally “where our passions lie.” As one might imagine, interests of students are as broad as the topic of sustainable agriculture itself. However, we identified a few significant threads through which we might weave together several great opportunities for the students of SAEA.

Our recent survey of the SAEA student membership survey suggested some interesting tidbits about the students and their interests. Students in SAEA have a wide array of interests; the top five were: experiential/on-farm learning, career pathways, organic or sustainable production issues, social justice in the food system, and research methodologies (e.g., decolonizing methodologies). According to respondents, the most important things SAEA could do would be to share information/opportunities to members, promote development of innovative teaching and learning strategies, promote academic learning opportunities for members, and organize networking opportunities.

We found out that the majority of our student membership in SAEA consists of grad students, but that undergrads still represent a strong showing. Academic programs we represent are a diverse set, ranging from environmental studies, to agricultural education, to social sciences related to food systems, to community viability, to agronomy, and to biophysical sciences such as horticulture and entomology. White women represent a large proportion of our students. Income levels were mainly consistent with a grad student stipend (less than $25,000). Our findings have focused new energy around outreach to diverse audiences.

After thinking over our survey results and skill sets, the SAEA Student Committee made plans for a student-led webinar series to begin in the fall. We are in the midst of crafting a schedule that will involve topics on citizen science, small farm viability, on-farm apprenticeships, identity politics of alternative agrifood movements, structural racism in the food system, collaborative research, and others. In addition to being a learning and networking opportunity for SAEA members, the webinar series will give students a chance to share their area(s) of expertise, and receive feedback from others. All are welcome to join us for the below webinars:

  • October 31, 2017, 12pm EST: Devin Foote will speak on his Masters Thesis, completed in 2016 at Michigan State University, on assessing small farm viability and net farm income.
  • November 2017 [exact date/time TBA]: Lorien MacAuley will speak on her dissertation at recently defended at Virginia Tech, on on-farm apprenticeships, social justice and legal implications.

Stay tuned for more details on the SAEA Student Webinar Series! For more information on the SAEA Student Committee, please contact Lorien MacAuley at lorien@vt.edu.