Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Marsha L. Spence

Committee Members

Hollie A. Raynor, Betsy Haughton


This study presents a formative evaluation of an afterschool program that combined youth development and school garden curricula. This program used a novel approach to teach elementary school children about fruits and vegetables and to engage them in advocacy for the physical activity and nutrition environments in their community. The youth development curriculum included sessions on team building, community pride, healthy eating and physical activity, and advocacy. Photovoice was used as a method to allow participants to assess their community and communicate findings with leaders. Participants selected community leaders to invite to their school and shared their findings via a presentation of the photographs and a plan for action. The school garden curriculum included lessons on plant parts, plant nutrients, site evaluation, and pollination. Participants planted and harvested vegetables in a raised bed constructed at their school. Formative evaluation was conducted through the use of an evaluation form to collect information about each session. Evaluations were examined to provide recommendations to strengthen future program design and implementation. Themes of the evaluation were: successful methods for engaging youth, issues within the social environment, and implications for program management. Successful methods for engaging youth included creative activities, working in pairs, and experiential activities. Issues in the social environment were behavioral problems, shyness, gender groups, and competition. Areas of concern for program management included recruitment, attendance, volunteer training, team building activities, and survey administration.

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