Citizen Science on the Farm is a one-year professional
development course that trains teachers to use agriculture-based
community and citizen science in their school gardens or on their
school campuses. While California produces over one-third of the
vegetables and two-thirds of the fruits and nuts for the United
States, more and more children grow up in urban and suburban
environments without opportunities to explore agriculture, the
environment, or related careers.
Outdoor spaces, like school
gardens, can help fill this gap by providing experiential
learning opportunities and access to nature. Yet, without
adequate programming and support, it can be challenging for
teachers to incorporate school gardens into their teaching.
Through community and citizen science, teachers can engage
students in authentic agricultural research experiences, which
can deepen their understanding of agriculture and the
environment. These experiences can also provide a framework to
ask and investigate questions within students’ communities.
Together, the UC Davis Center for Community and Citizen Science
Farm are developing a teacher training program and supporting
curriculum for teachers to apply youth-focused community and
citizen science (YCCS) to their school gardens and campuses.
Selected elementary school teachers will attend a two-day
workshop to learn how to use YCCS as an instructional method,
receive a supporting curriculum, and partake in hands-on YCCS
activities. Followup visits will help teachers implement projects
within their schools and prepare teachers and classes for a
spring field trip to the Student Farm. Finally, an
end-of-the-year meeting will provide teachers time to reflect on
what they learned and provide feedback.
In their schools, teachers will lead
students in identifying research questions, designing quality
control procedures, collecting data, conducting data analyses,
and presenting findings to a variety of audiences. By using real
science practices, students can take ownership of their work and
apply the investigative process to their own lives and
communities. Later, as part of the field trip to the UC Davis
Student Farm, students will collect data for the San Francisco
State University’s Great Sunflower Project and
Cornell University’s Lost Ladybug
Project. Scientists can then use the collected data for
environmental monitoring and research.
Overall, the Citizen Science on the Farm project will provide
teachers with the training and materials they need to connect
students with their school’s garden or green spaces through
youth-focused community and citizen science.