Agricultural Leadership & Community Ed

STOCKSCH 263 – Agricultural Leadership & Community Education

How to Enroll 

sarahbINSTRUCTOR:  Sarah Berquist is an Instructor in the UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture and is passionate about Sustainable Food & Farming, Agriculture Education, and Social Justice.

She is excited to equip students with practical life skills like the ability to grow their own food, confidence in leading others, and critical thinking to solve problems regardless of the career path they choose. Experiential learning is at the heart of her teaching philosophy and she loves getting her hands dirty with her students in the field.

Contact Sarah for more information at


Course Overview:

This three-credit course will deepen your understanding of teaching methodologies, tools for leadership, and community-building strategies for community and farm-based education.  The field of farm and community-based education is growing with more farms expanding beyond production to offer educational programming, more schools adopting school gardens, and increasing demand for community programs (youth and adult) offering skills for resilience and self-sustainability.   As we explore more sustainable systems of production in agriculture, we need to train our next generations of farmers and food systems advocates in pedagogy and practice to become effective teachers.  This learning often takes place beyond formal classrooms, and more in the field, workshops, conferences and apprenticeships.  Someday, you may be the one leading these workshops and organizing these events.

Blending the role of teacher and farmer, this class is for those interested in teaching topics relevant to food systems, agriculture, sustainability, and building community in settings ranging from on-farm to managing educational programs in non-profits or public schools.  My hope is to provide a brief introduction to various contexts that you may work in, and you will then engage more deeply with a context of your choice.   You will explore and reflect on your learning style, examine theories of teaching and learning, and translate these theories into practice through designing lesson plans and conducting your own lesson.

Some Photos: 

Learning Objectives: by the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Design 1-2 hour lesson or workshop on selected topic employing “active” teaching methodologies.
  • Create 3-4 SMART learning objectives for a lesson or workshop.
  • Articulate 2-3 core values in your approach to teaching or leading.
  • Identify appropriate teaching tools for a teaching or leading scenario in agricultural context.
  • Identify and explain 2-3 key learning theories relevant to agricultural education.
  • Identify and explain 3-4 strategies for engaging youth and/or adults in formal and/or farm-based settings.

Grading: I highly value participation. Rather than formal exams, we will focus on weekly assignments, readings, practice, and reflection.   We will engage deeply through online discussion, video reflections and our collaborative projects.

  1.  Weekly Journals & Assignments 40%
  2. Midterm Project & Reflection 20%
  3. Final Project & Reflection 20%
  4. Online quizzes 20%

At the end of the semester, you will conduct a self-evaluation suggesting your grade with a rubric according the categories listed above.  I will compare my data with your suggestion and submit your final grade according to these grade ranges:

A= 94-100      A- = 90-93

B+ =87-89      B = 83-86      B- = 80-82

C+ = 77-79     C = 73-76      C- = 70-72

D+ = 67-69     D = 63-66



No required textbook- all readings available through Blackboard and/or class handouts

Semester Schedule and Assignments: TBD

What to expect?

This course will have students with many diverse interests and experience in teaching, leading, facilitating, organizing, and other leadership roles in agriculture.  You are not expected to have any experience in this field or to know exactly what context you want to work with.  This semester, we will explore many contexts that you might engage in, and practice some hands-on skills necessary to succeed as a leader, teacher, facilitator, organizer, educator, trainer, manager, etc.
The course format will be a mix of lecture video, online discussion,  case studies, guest speakers, student-led activities, and hands-on activities. My hope is to hold space for exploration, growth, practice, and reflection. I am excited to add to your toolboxes and help build confidence as you step into jobs, internships, and life experiences requiring leadership. I am excited that you are here and are looking forward to a great semester!

Accommodation Statement

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is committed to providing an equal educational opportunity for all students.  If you have a documented physical, psychological, or learning disability on file with Disability Services (DS), you may be eligible for reasonable academic accommodations to help you succeed in this course.  If you have a documented disability that requires an accommodation, please notify me within the first two weeks of the semester so that we may make appropriate arrangements.

Academic Honesty Statement

Since the integrity of the academic enterprise of any institution of higher education requires honesty in scholarship and research, academic honesty is required of all students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  Academic dishonesty is prohibited in all programs of the University.  Academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to: cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and facilitating dishonesty.  Appropriate sanctions may be imposed on any student who has committed an act of academic dishonesty.  Instructors should take reasonable steps to address academic misconduct.  Any person who has reason to believe that a student has committed academic dishonesty should bring such information to the attention of the appropriate course instructor as soon as possible.  Instances of academic dishonesty not related to a specific course should be brought to the attention of the appropriate department Head or Chair.  Since students are expected to be familiar with this policy and the commonly accepted standards of academic integrity, ignorance of such standards is not normally sufficient evidence of lack of intent.

This class is part of the Sustainable Food and Farming Online Certificate Program and will count toward the Associate of Science degree as well as the Online B.S. degree.  Online classes cost $482/credit.

To begin planning for the future, see….

Annual Class Schedule

NOTE: The UMass Sustainable Food and Farming Certificate has been declared eligible for Veterans Educational Benefits. For instructions see: Veterans Benefits.

If you are not interested in earning college credit, there are many non-credited workshops and short courses you can take outside of the university.  For a list see: non-university workshops and courses.

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