Date of Award
Master of Science
Plant and Soil Science
Human knowledge of the food and fiber systems affects nearly every facet of the society we live in. While this industry affects billions of lives daily, little research has been conducted to identify the level of knowledge on this industry in college age students. This replicated study was produced to evaluate and assess the agricultural knowledge and personal perception of the industry of undergraduate students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIU) in the Fall 2018 semester. Participants completed a 25-questionnaire food and fiber literacy test to assess their knowledge and 14 questions regarding personal characteristics and perceptions of the agricultural industry. The average score on the agricultural literacy test was an 18.23 out of 25 questions correct. College of Agricultural Sciences and College of Science scored the highest while College of Education and Human Services and College of Applied Sciences and Arts scores were among the lowest. Comparisons of student demographic information such as hometown size, organization participation and gender were conducted to determine correlation between specific groups and their agricultural literacy levels. Females slightly outscored males. Cities and Rural communities achieved the highest averages when comparing community sizes. Students who enrolled in agricultural education courses in high school seemed to score higher on the agricultural literacy test. A majority of respondents stated they strongly agree that agriculture is important to society; but when asked how knowledgeable they considered themselves to be in agriculture, an overwhelming amount of students responded below average. The results of this study found a hopeful advancement in agricultural literacy but also revealed possible influential factors in poor agricultural knowledge. It is recommended that such a study be continually conducted at Southern Illinois Universities and other institutions of higher education.
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