Youth and Education

Discover more about research, teaching and outreach focused on youth and education conducted in Latin America by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
Agricultural & Extension Education major Kate Bassett conducted her student teaching internship in Benque, Belize

Agricultural & Extension Education major Kate Bassett conducted her student teaching internship in Benque, Belize

Thematic Projects

Global Teach Ag!

The mission of the PSU Global Teach Ag! Initiative is to develop capacity in agriscience teachers and agriscience education programs for global impact in food, fiber, and natural resources through youth development and education programming.  The initiative is involved in research related to formal and non-formal agricultural education in several locations in Latin America including Belize, Guatemala and Costa Rica.

Projects by Country


Ph.D. Candidate Erika Pioltine is studying issues in citizen participation and
community agencies regarding the Brazilian Social Mobilization Plan, an
educational policy reform of 2008 which calls the society to engage towards the
betterment of the quality of education in rural communities in Brazil. Her work
has been funded by the Office of International Programs (College of
Ag) and the UNESCO Chair for in Rural Community, Leadership, and Youth
Development at Penn State. In addition, she is working in partnership with the
Brazilian Ministry of Education and Municipal Secretaries of Education in the
local communities she works.

Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, Dr. Paige Castellanos investigated the Conditional Cash Transfer
program called Avancemos. The CCT program provides financial support to
low-income families who are then required to send their children to high school.  Dr. Castellanos focused her doctoral research on the economic and education impacts of the program and the gender differences of those outcomes.
To fund her research, Dr. Castellanos received awards from the College of
Agricultural Sciences, the INTAD Competitive Grant, and from the Strategies and
Global Security Scholars program at Penn State.  She was also awarded the Penn State Alumni Association Dissertation Award in recognition of her project.
Costa Rican institutions providing support to the study included the Instituto
Nacional de Estadistica y Censos (National Institute of Statistics and Censuses) and the Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Local (Mixed Social Assistance Institute).


Daniel Foster and Melanie Miller Foster work with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service to provide technical expertise for a series of Integrated Pest Management training in secondary schools in Guatemala.  The team is analyzing pedagogical approaches for the existing training to create a sense of contextual relevancy for secondary students. 


Carla Snyder, the Agricultural Entrepreneurship and Marketing Educator at Penn State Extension, works with the Nicaragua Extensionist Program.  A partnership between the Young Growers Alliance and Project Gettysburg Leon, it works to enhance educational resources, mentorship, and agricultural technical assistance for young growers in Nicaragua.  She led a group on a recent trip to the country with young growers from Pennsylvania to exchange technical innovations in the fields of bio-intensive agriculture, animal production and post-harvest storage with Nicaraguan Extensionists.  The partnership has been essential for networking and improving cultural exchange and sharing innovative practices between Nicaraguan and Pennsylvanian farmers. 


Carolyn Booth Reyes, graduate student in Rural Sociology and International Agriculture and Development, is researching the impact of the Teacher Career Law passed in Peru that was designed to improve education through a merit-based system of hiring and payment.

Multiple Countries

Dr. David Abler, Professor of Agricultural, Environmental, and Regional Economics and Demography, completed research on child labor in Mexico, Peru, and Chile.  The research aimed to illustrate how the economies and educational policies in each country impacted child attendance in school.  Many challenges confront impoverished rural areas such as in Mexico where about one-fifth of household income comes from child labor.  Six Penn State graduate students assisted in the project in a collaborative effort with the universities they previously attended in Latin America.  The Ford Foundation provided funds for the graduate student training for the project and the Hewlett Foundation provided funds for the research component of the project.  In data spanning a long period of time, results from the work presented the direct impact that poverty had on school attendance with poorer areas more likely to have secondary school dropouts and young farm workers.


Would you like your project featured here?  Contact Melanie Miller Foster for more information.