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Abstract of Research Leading to this Project

AN EXAMINATION OF POLLUTION PREVENTION
IN MONTANA SECONDARY AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION LABORATORIES

Slide Presentation to the National Agricultural Education Research Conference (San Diego)

by Thomas Martin Bass
January 2000

     The purpose of this study is to determine what practices, in the area of pollution prevention and waste management, are being applied by Montana agricultural educators in the classroom, laboratory and field settings.  When certain defined practices are not applied, barriers to implementation will be examined.  Data will also be collected and analyzed regarding Montana agricultural educators’ perceptions and knowledge base concerning pollution prevention, waste management and hazardous material management.

     A survey titled “Pollution Prevention in Agricultural Education Laboratories and Field Areas” was administered to 73 Montana Agricultural Education Programs, which appeared on a statewide agricultural education program directory.  This study was a census of the population of Montana Agricultural Education programs.

     Subject areas examined in this study are divided into ten sections: 1) Demographic data, 2) Program information, 3) Agricultural and power mechanics laboratory , 4) Green house and farm plot, 5) Wood laboratory , 6) Metals/welding laboratory , 7) Animal confinement area, 8) Curriculum and classroom management, 9) Perceptions, 10) Barriers to Pollution Prevention. 

     Results of the study found that deficiencies were identified with current practices in pollution prevention and waste management by Montana agricultural educators.  Lack of knowledge, or need for further education was the primary barrier to practice and improvement of pollution prevention identified by survey respondents.  Agricultural educators in Montana, had positive perceptions of pollution prevention.  Most agreed that agriculturalists are responsible for their own actions concerning the environment and that the actions of few can have a wide effect.  It was documented that  Montana agricultural educators do have a basic knowledge or awareness of pollution prevention and proper waste management. 

     The participants in this study indicated a need for education in pollution prevention specific to agricultural teaching laboratories and field areas.  Agricultural educators in Montana are interested in pursuing this issue. Data obtained through this study may also be pertinent in other areas of vocational education were similar teaching or research facilities are maintained.  Such research can also contribute to that which has already been done in other areas such as chemistry and biology education.  

     It is recommended that a pollution prevention education or training program, specific for agricultural education, should be developed as soon as possible.  It should focus on source reduction of waste, management of unavoidable waste and consideration to proper facilities planning and management.  Agricultural educators themselves should be as involved as possible in the development of pollution prevention training and education.  Such information should become part of a  holistic pollution prevention resource for educational institutions including all traditional, academic and vocational (agriculture included) teaching areas. 

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