Project: Research project

Project Details


It is understood that climate change will threaten the resiliency of agro-ecological systems, through impacts such as, decreases in crop yields, lack of access to fresh water for irrigation, and temperature changes affecting seafood farming operations. Although a number of technological solutions continue to contribute to agricultural adaptations, the success of these solutions hinges on widespread societal support, particularly among the agricultural community. Unfortunately, farmers are consistently some of the most skeptical groups of anthropogenic climate change, with over 88% associating the phenomenon with natural causes. As the recognition of human-causes is a key belief to promoting and engaging in mitigation behaviors, there is a significant missed opportunity in the agricultural sector in combating climate change. However, research shows that climate change perceptions are influenced by personal ideologies, worldviews, and the opinions of one's social group as opposed to climate science fact. As leaders in the agricultural sector have taken a stance against comprehensive climate mitigation policies, it is unsurprising that many farmers do not accept human-caused climate change.Promisingly, children and young adults appear to be more receptive to climate change messaging than their adult counterparts. Research finds that at high levels of climate change knowledge, adolescents are better able to separate out climate science fact from personal ideologies and opinions. Fortunately, building on agricultural traditions such as 4-H, which drives innovation through youth, leveraging the opinions of adolescents to influence the climate change perceptions may provide the opportunity to make inroads with adults where other strategies have failed. This type of communication, known as intergenerational learning (IGL) from the child-to-adult direction, has been successful in numerous contexts including recycling, views on sexual orientation, and grocery shopping purchasing decisions. It has not however, been previously tested with climate change information in agricultural communities.As such, this project will set out to determine if a curriculum designed to maximize the chance of IGL results in the increased climate concern and commitment to climate resilient agricultural practices in North Carolina high school agriculture students and their parents. Thirty-six high school agriculture teachers from across North Carolina will be trained in the curriculum over two years, and will be asked to teach the curriculum to their classrooms of students. Survey data before and after the curriculum is implemented will be collected from at least 1,800 students and 540 parents, and statistically analyzed to determine whether IGL has occurred. Ultimately, it is expected that IGL will occur from students to their parents. Results from this study will help build a climate literate citizenry that not only supports, but also implements sustainable agriculture practices, in an effort to help make agriculture systems resilient to the impending impacts of climate change.

Effective start/end date6/1/195/31/22


  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture: $165,000.00


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