Dordt College News

Ag Journal names Bajema Author of the Year

June 23, 2004

The American Association for Agricultural Education (AAAE) has presented Duane Bajema, professor of agriculture at Dordt College, with a pair of national awards for his research and resulting article published in the AAAE’s Journal of Agricultural Education.

The Journal of Agricultural Education Outstanding Article Award and the Author of the Year Award were both awarded to Bajema following the publication of his paper, “Aspirations of Rural Youth” in 2003. The paper originated from Bajema’s dissertation, which studied the aspirations of rural youth and identified perceived support for and barriers to achieving their goals. Duane Bajema

The AAAE said Bajema’s findings were well researched, written, organized and meaningful to the profession of agriculture. Dr. Bajema attended Dordt College as a student for two years before earning his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Minnesota, followed by a Masters in Agriculture and a Ph.D. from Iowa State University. He has been teaching agricultural courses at Dordt College for 27 years. Two Iowa State colleagues, W. Wade Miller and David L. Williams, collaborated with Bajema’s writing of the article.

The study is based on a survey of all seniors enrolled in both public and private high schools in the five county area of Northwest Iowa identified as Area Education Agency 4 (AEA 4). Senior students from these 17 schools were asked to indicate their educational and occupational aspirations, their perceptions of support for or barriers to achieving goals. Comparisons between town youth and farm youth were also made on these variables.

“The aspirations developed by students have a profound impact on learning. Aspirations influence learning and guide students in making life choices,” states the study. Research has found that the aspiration level of youth in rural communities is more vulnerable to the social influences of a community due to factors of isolation, population size and community culture.

Bajema’s survey found that 96 percent of the students in the survey planned to pursue post-secondary education, with 10 percent headed to a trade or business college, 32 percent selecting community colleges and 54 percent planning to attend a four-year college or university. The most popular area of study (15.7 percent of all students) was “business/marketing/accounting/management,” followed by the fields of education and health-related areas.

Students perceived that the environment provided by their schools was supportive of their aspirations, and barriers to achieving their goals were perceived as minimal.

"Aspirations of Rural Youth" may be read in its entirety at this website.

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