Reframing AgriCULTURAL Experiences, Narratives, and Careers for African American Youth: A Study of Community-based Programs Leaders' Motivations and Educational Space

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Virginia Tech

To uncover experiences specific to African Americans youth in agricultural and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) career explorations and to understand why African Americans are missing from agriculture and STEM, a systematic literature review and empirical study were conducted. Literature covering the current and past African American perceptions of agriculture and STEM discipline, and narratives and experiences of African Americans in agriculture, were reviewed to explain their influences on African American youth perceptions and interest to pursue careers in agriculture and STEM. However, literature also explained the role of agricultural programs in STEM and agricultural literacy. In one paper, Social Cognitive Career Theory was used to frame the career interest development process of the individual learner to reference African American Youth. This review captured African American's negative connotations of agricultural and STEM despite the knowledge and work African Americans have contributed to Agriculture and STEM since the formation of America. In addition, to address how to deter the negative connotations youth have, an empirical study was performed interviewing eight program leaders of community-based organizations that are engaging African American youth in agricultural and STEM education. Program leaders described their motivations and purpose as an act of service to the youth and the community as a way to provide youth with opportunities or capital as described by Bourdieu.

African Americans, Agriculture, Career Development, STEM, Perceptions, Interest