Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Resource Conservation (International Conservation and Development)

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Stephen Siebert

Commitee Members

Jill Belsky, Neva Hassanein


action-oriented education, Central America, Honduras, organic agriculture, participatory education, rural nutrition, sustainable agriculture, upland development, women and development, women and education


University of Montana


Agricultural policies and global economic forces negatively affect many small-scale farmers in developing countries, resulting in widespread micronutrient malnutrition and environmental degradation. This study explores the connections between these issues, and the efficacy of using participatory education on sustainable agriculture to address them at a local level. Specifically, it evaluates an action-oriented education and sustainable agriculture program in Honduras, from the perspective of the participants and my own participation, as a means to improve agricultural practices and rural nutrition among subsistence farmers. As in many developing countries, access to land, poor soil conditions, steep hillsides, adverse climatic conditions, and limited seed supplies affect the ability of Honduran subsistence farmers to produce enough food to supply their families’ dietary needs. In addition, limited access to affordable healthy foods compounds problems of rural malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies. A supplemental educational program was initiated at a Catholic boarding school for high school girls in Guaimaca, Honduras, to address these issues. The project worked with young women and their families to design a pilot organic farm and garden to teach girls how to use sustainable agriculture practices in order to increase both crop and dietary diversity. The project also utilized education to reinforce fieldwork with classes on nutrition, cooking, agronomy, and environmental science. I conducted a series of mixed-method participant surveys to assess the effectiveness of the project from the perspective of the participants. The data collection methods utilized included semistructured and unstructured interviews, participatory questionnaires, and participant observation. The results suggest that participants adopted lessons on sustainable agriculture and nutrition, and ultimately expanded the program from a school farm project to household and community agriculture projects.



© Copyright 2007 Sarah Lynne Potenza