Agricultural educators and agricultural industry leaders have called for a basic level of agricultural literacy for Americans of all ages. Benchmarks have been developed by science and agricultural educators for students at all levels regarding an understanding of meat and livestock concepts. This qualitative study sought to ascertain rural fifth grade students' cognitive structures about these concepts. Through interviews and concept mapping, student understandings were unearthed. This study found that students were aware that food products come from animals, but they were not as aware of other products that animals produce for human use. The students did not understand the size and scope of modern agriculture, but most had a very basic understanding of the process that meat travels from farm to consumer. The language these students used to describe the benchmarks was not the language experts deemed necessary. Although the students could describe the steps of the process, their discourse did not include " scientifically " acceptable terminology educators prescribed in national benchmarks for science and agricultural education.
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