Positive Youth Development and Agricultural Capacity Building in The Bahamas
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Food security and “access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food” (FAO, 2017) in The Bahamas has been compromised by the lack of meaningful and reliable food security programs, and sustainable, self-sufficient food systems (IICA, n.d). The FAO (2014) cited insufficient access of youth to knowledge, information and education as the number one challenge facing agricultural progression. A comprehensive response to meeting the challenges within the agricultural sector requires the investment in youth development in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related programs to bridge the gap between science and agriculture and create the capacity needed to improve the Bahamian agricultural industry. This study examines the role of positive youth development (PYD) programs in improving 4-6 grade students’ science aptitudes and helping to build capacity for agricultural development in The Bahamas. Thirty-seven (n=37) students from two primary schools on Andros, Bahamas, participated in the PYD project Soil to Supper. A pre/post-test questionnaire was administered to collect data on students’ knowledge in science and agriculture before and after participation in the project. Results from this study showed that positive youth development (PYD) programs significantly increase students’ scientific knowledge and agricultural skills. Knowledge gained in science and agriculture through participation in PYD programs could strengthen capacity building and agricultural development by providing skill-building, leadership, and competency developmental opportunities for youth.