A Lesson in Agroecosystem Sustainability: A Honduran Case Study for Entry Level Environmental, Ecological, and Plant Science Students

By Lori Unruh Snyder, Adrianne Huber, Tim Durham, Jeff Pack and Ricardo Arias.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The purpose of this case study is to provide undergraduates an opportunity to critically appraise the sustainability of five real-world Honduran agroecosystems. In particular, this exercise introduces the concepts of biodiversity, polycultures, monocultures, cropping practices, and their intersections. Throughout the case study, students are presented with supporting information and comprehensive questions. In a capstone synthesis exercise, students are challenged to valuate and present on the relative sustainability of each system using a pre-defined set of evaluative criteria (social, economic and environmental). The objective of this exercise is to give students a forum to critically deconstruct the merits and challenges of each system while identifying commonalities with American agriculture. This case study is suitable for students with an interest in the nexus between crop production, ecology, environmental literacy, and sustainability.

Keywords: Agroecosystems, Case Study, Crops, Dairy, Farming, Honduras, Industrial, Monoculture, Pineapple, Polyculture, Subsistence, Sustainability, Tropical

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp.49-64. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.136MB).

Dr. Lori Unruh Snyder

Assistant Professor, Department of Agronomy, Purdue University, Lafayette, IN, USA

Dr. Lori Unruh Snyder is an Assistant Professor in the Agronomy Department at Purdue University. Dr. Unruh Snyder earned her B.S. (Entomology) and M.S. (Crop Science) degrees at Cornell University and Ph.D. degree (Crop Science Major: Soil Science Minor) from North Carolina State University. Dr. Unruh Snyder began her professional career at North Carolina State University as a Lecturer while working on her Ph.D. in Crop Science. After NCSU, she lectured at the University of Florida from 2004 to 2007. Currently, Dr. Unruh Snyder is involved in international agricultural developments in both Honduras and Costa Rica. Her research focus is in sustainable agriculture farming practices focusing on forage cropping systems. She is active professionally in the Crop Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy. Her major efforts are working with internationalizing the curriculum of Agronomy, developing online interactive teaching modules, and advising her students in Agronomy.

Adrianne Huber

Undergraduate Research Assistant, Department of Agronomy, Purdue University, Lafayette, IN, USA

Adrianne is a student at Purdue University pursuing a B.S. in International Agronomy and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering. She has traveled around the world exploring differing agricultural systems. Upon graduation, she intends to become an aid worker in a third world country, teaching and training in sustainable agriculture.

Dr. Tim Durham

Instructor, Office of Curriculum and Instruction University Colloquium Library, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, FL, USA

Tim is a lifelong agriculturalist. His family operates Deer Run Farm – a 30 acre “truck” farm on Long Island, New York. Deer Run grows a variety of leafy greens, including spinach, cabbage, and ethnic lettuce for wholesale in New York City. As one of a handful of farms in the area, it faces unique challenges, especially those associated with urban-edge agriculture. Tim has a keen interest in the interplay between science, sustainability, and policymaking. After graduating from Cornell University in 2001 with a B.S. in Plant Science, he worked in various levels of state and federal government while continuing to work seasonally at the farm. In 2004, Tim was awarded a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship for study at Lincoln University, New Zealand. Upon his return, he enrolled in the University of Florida’s Plant Medicine Program, a professional doctorate designed to parallel a D.V.M or M.D. The Department of Homeland Security awarded Tim a graduate fellowship in 2005. In the summer of 2006, he was a visiting fellow at Los Alamos National Lab, working with tunable diode laser spectroscopy and crop biosecurity. In 2007, Tim was awarded an NSF sponsored travel grant to participate in the Rice: Research to Production Course at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines. Tim graduated from UF in 2008. He is currently a sustainability colloquium instructor at Florida Gulf Coast University and visiting assistant professor at Nicholls State University.

Dr. Jeff Pack

Professor, Department of Horticulture, Tegucigalpa, Zamerano, Honduras

Ricardo Arias

Gradudate Student, Univesrity of Wyoming, Lamarie, WY, USA

I am a M.S. graduate of Purdue University. My home country is Honduras. I am currently seeking my PhD in Animal Science.


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