Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Plant and Environmental Science

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dale Layfield

Committee Member

Chris Eck

Committee Member

Dara Park


Studies in the career development of youth identify middle school as the optimum time for career exploration, as it advances young adolescents’ self-awareness, knowledge of prospective careers, and goal setting. In South Carolina (SC), only 5% (13 of 248) of public middle schools provide agricultural education. The purpose of this study is to measure any increase in agricultural awareness and literacy of South Carolina 8th-grade social studies teachers participating in a five-day study tour (SOCIAL tour) through mixed method procedures. A pre and post-tour survey given to participants indicated a significant increase in knowledge and perception of agriculture after the SOCIAL tour (n = 10). The qualitative analysis included collecting photographs and reflections from participants at the end of each tour day. A total of 60 photos and reflections were analyzed. A codebook was developed, and after three rounds of coding, the five themes that emerged from participants’ experiences were: 1) 21st-century agriculture production, 2) a need for agricultural literacy, 3) dissemination of information for greater agricultural literacy, 4) sustainable agricultural practices, and 5) the historical impact of agriculture on SC. The major finding of this study was that the SOCIAL tour improved agricultural literacy. Participants recognized the extent of the agricultural knowledge they gained on the tour and described their intentions to enhance the social studies curriculum by exploring the state’s historical and contemporary agricultural systems. Educators should seek similar tours and classes to increase their experiential exposure to modern agriculture practices and agricultural literacy.

Available for download on Friday, May 31, 2024