Factors that Influence Black and Latino High School Students to Pursue Careers in Agriculture

Open Access
Author:
Dumas, Jonathan A
Graduate Program:
Agricultural and Extension Education
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
March 18, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Nicole Sheree Webster, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • Agriculture
  • Youth
  • Careers
  • Diversity
  • Black
  • Latino
  • Barriers
  • Factors and Influence
Abstract:
The purpose of this research was to assess the factors that influence Black and Latino high school students enrolled in embedded agricultural education programs to pursue careers in agriculture. The study was unique as it sought out to discover factors for Blacks and Latinos as their immigrant status and historical ties to their homeland differ from other racial and ethnic groups. The researcher observed a series of relationships in an effort to shed light on paradigms that exist for these groups. Determining the factors that influence Black and Latino high school students to pursue careers in agriculture could assist embedded agricultural programs, colleges of agriculture and the agricultural industry with the recruitment and retention of minority populations. Students enrolled in high school embedded agricultural programs served as the unit of analysis for this research. The target population was high school students in Miami-Dade County, Florida. A three-part questionnaire was derived and used to collect data pertaining to the factors that influence career choice, agricultural literacy, prospective barriers to pursuing careers in agriculture, characteristics of those interested in agriculture careers, involvement and general demographical questions. Data was analyzed by content, and emergent themes and patterns were identified and organized into coherent categories. Chi-squares and correlations were then used to test the significance of dependent, independent and confounding variables. Respondents were typically female, residing in urban areas, and ranging from 14 years old to 19 years of age and older. These students were representative of a number of races, ethnicities and nationalities, and were predominantly Black and Latino. Students sampled and enrolled in the embedded agricultural education program at William H. Turner Technical Arts High School have a positive perception of agriculture, are surrounded by peers who have positive perceptions of agriculture and have parents that are supportive regardless of their career aspirations and choices. They believe agriculture is vital and important to our economy, and most of them plan to pursue careers in agriculture. However, majority of these students indicated they did not have a mentor in the agricultural industry, no interaction with recruiters and no support from guidance counselors with regards to their career and educational aspirations.