Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Youth Development and Agricultural Education

First Advisor

Neil A. Knobloch

Committee Chair

Neil A. Knobloch

Committee Member 1

Aryn M. Dotterer

Committee Member 2

Robert J. Joly


Pre-college summer residential experiences hosted by a College of Agriculture have the potential to expose high school students to new career opportunities and fields of study that they may not have considered, and may influence agricultural literacy, perceptions of agriculture, and interest in agriculture. Engaging these students is important for meeting the demand for more students graduating with agriculture degrees prepared to solve 21st century challenges. The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the outcomes of two separate pre-college experiences, the Molecular Agriculture Summer Institute (MASI) and the Purdue Agribusiness Science Academy (PASA), and participating high school students’ motivation, career interests, views, and educational aspirations. High school students who participated in the two pre-college programs were motivated to engage in the programs and activities, reported higher agricultural career interests after participating in the pre-college programs, described more positive views of agriculture after participating in the pre-college programs, and most participants aspired to attend a 4-year university. Recommendations for the MASI and PASA programs include incorporating: (1) opportunities for students to see how careers in agriculture can integrate science and working with people, (2) activities and speakers not related to traditional agricultural careers, (3) 21st century challenges, and (4) activities providing PASA students with a preview of college. Additionally, it is recommended that the MASI and PASA programs continue to recruit students not from traditional agricultural backgrounds, embrace the diversity of student philosophies and values, and maintain communication with students after the programs.