Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Department or School/College

Environmental Studies

Committee Chair

Neva Hassanein

Commitee Members

Janet Finn, Lindsey Nichols


youth empowerment, program development, participatory research, sustainable agriculture, environmental education


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Environmental Studies | Food Studies


This professional paper presents a program evaluation and strategic plan for the youth development farming programs at Garden City Harvest (GCH), a non-profit in Missoula, Montana, which coordinates community-centered agriculture projects and facilitates sustainable agriculture education. The youth programs, Youth Harvest (YH) and Youth Farm (YF), hire adolescents of 15-18 years of age to work on their urban farms to learn about sustainable agriculture, job readiness skills, and social-emotional well-being. As the organization continues to expand, especially with the addition of a new facility, GCH administration and staff are interested in learning how the programs impact the youth employees and how future programming can provide more empowering and meaningful opportunities for youth.

To inform GCH on the strategic development of the youth programs, I facilitated two focus groups of past youth employees of YH and YF; the first group identified the strengths and areas of improvement of the programs, and the second group developed recommendations for programmatic growth. From interviews with staff at nine similar youth programs around the country, I identified best practices and ideas for program development that could be adopted by GCH to bolster their programs. Using a participatory action research approach, I recruited youth from the focus groups to assist in thematic data analysis and in the development of the recommendations, particularly how GCH could provide new employment opportunities for youth in the winter season. Possible winter programming activities include: implementing a culinary program where youth learn basic cooking and food preservation skills, offering advanced professional development workshops for youth, and facilitating youth-led education workshops to local high schools. This professional paper is a detailed summary of those findings and recommendations that will be available to GCH staff for the future development of the youth programs.



© Copyright 2018 Hannah B. Oblock