UCCI Course Description

Business of Sustainable Agriculture: English 12 Integrated with Entrepreneurship and Agribusiness

Overview Course Content Course Materials
Length of Course
Full Year (2 semesters; 3 trimesters; 4 quarters)
Subject Area - Discipline
English (B) - English
UC Honors Designation
CTE Sector
Agriculture and Natural Resources
CTE Pathway
Agricultural Business
Grade Level(s)
At least one year of college-preparatory English


This year long, six unit, 12th grade language arts/CTE hybrid course allows students to develop the skills and foundational knowledge needed to start a sustainable agribusiness. In addition to being able to evaluate and differentiate agricultural business types and structures, students will also develop ethical and socially responsible decision making skills through a series of analytical and research essays as well as through detailed presentations and mock trials. While the first semester of this year-long course focuses on building an understanding of agriculture and sustainability, as well as the many forces that affect the industry, the second semester focuses on using that base knowledge to inform building business and entrepreneurial acumen. By the end of this course students will synthesize language, communication, critical thinking skills, marketing and economic principles, pertinent legal knowledge, as well as the foundations of agriculture into the design of a business plan for a sustainable agribusiness.  After a series of revisions and peer editing, students will pitch the business plan to a panel of community partners and industry professionals who will not only evaluate the viability of each plan but offer critical feedback as well.

Course Content

Unit 1 : Ethics of Agribusiness

Unit 1 Description

Students will examine the various ethical concerns facing agribusiness such as sustainability and social responsibility, and evaluate the efficacy and enforcement of current laws and bills. Students will employ research skills such as navigating websites, reading non-fiction, close-reading various texts, participating in discussion, journaling, writing various forms of summary, writing a research report, so they may inquire into and explore significant issues in business practices in order to evaluate and judge current perspectives from such lobbying organizations as PETA and governmental organizations as the FDA and the U.S.D.A. By reviewing key policy issues relative to agribusiness, students will develop the subject matter knowledge and English Language Arts skills that will later help them identify authentic concerns and problems for their inquiry as they progress into the course to produce an agribusiness plan.

Class definition of sustainability

Students will first research & discuss the definition of sustainability as it applies to agribusiness and ethics and devise a class definition that they can agree on and post in the classroom for reference. This will be used to to inform their thinking and decision making as the class progresses and will be revisited for reconsideration later in the course.

Simulation: Agripreneur Code of Ethics

Students will research the lobbyist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines for the treatment of livestock and view current PETA videos Re: unethical practices in agribusinesses. In groups, students will participate in a simulation where they assume the perspective of an agribusiness that was in clear violation of the law and complete two tasks:

1)  To broaden the students’ understanding of the complexity of real-world business decisions, students will write up an internal audit report that summarizes how the unethical policy violation became an established business practice;

2) To respond proactively to the clear violation of ethics, students will create an Agripreneur Code of Ethics. This Agripreneur Code of Ethics will highlight the values and expectations for ethical behavior of the business entity and all of its employees and associates.

Concluding this simulation, students will write about whether or not their personal views align with or are opposed to the unethical business practice or with PETA. Students will be evaluated on their research skills, their ability to clearly identify and explain the values and expectations for ethical behavior in this context, and their written critique/reflection.

All work produced from this assignment will be collected in an electronic business portfolio to be used as a resource for their business plan. The knowledge gained from this assignment will help students in the creation of their executive summary and business description portions of their business plan.

Socratic Seminar Series and Timed Writings: Various Ethical Considerations and Concerns

Students will read and discuss in a socratic style seminar series Joyce Carol Oates’ essay “Against Nature,” and Op-ed pieces from the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times (such as the Los Angeles Times series of articles recommended for this unit) in order to analyze agribusiness labor and marketing practices as well as consumers' concerns with the ethical food choice dilemmas they face at the supermarket. Students will read rhetorically to analyze and evaluate the arguments and structure of the texts. Students may also connect their discussion to additional texts related to the issues of ethics in agribusiness. Students will also produce timed writings for each text presented in this assignment to state to what extent they agree with the authors' positions and should support their own position with reasons and evidence from their own observations and experience. This assignment will serve to give students the discussion and writing experience required to later articulate the ethical considerations of their business plans.

All work produced from this assignment will be collected in an electronic business portfolio to be used as a resource for their business plan. The knowledge gained from this assignment will be utilized in the creation of the executive summary, business operations, and marketing portions of their business plan.

Unit 2 : Introduction to Sustainable Agricultural Entrepreneurship

In this unit, through engagement with numerous texts including Omnivore’s Dilemma, the film Food Inc. and extensive research into the California almond industry, students will be able to articulate in writing and orally the significance and relevance of maintaining an ethical Agribusiness and the importance of sustainable practices on both a local and global scale.  Students will also generate ideas for new products, services, and processes to showcase what they have learned about sustainable agribusiness and to hypothesize industry changes that could take advantage of modern farming methods while still being sustainable and profitable. This will establish a context and framework for students to later conceive of and develop a sustainable agribusiness plan.

Descriptive Outline and Rhetorical Precis: Food Inc. directed by Robert Kenner

Students will view the documentary film Food Inc. directed by Robert Kenner and produce a descriptive outline of the documentary and a Rhetorical Précis. In preparation, students will participate in discussions on topics related to the film, especially the essential question: How is agribusiness the source of many of our health problems? This film viewing, concise summary assignment, and discussion will be the basis for students identifying issues and concerns that they will address as agribusiness entrepreneurs.

Students will collect all work from this assignment into an electronic business portfolio for use in the development of the executive summary and business description of their business plan.

Presentation: Analysis of the California Almond Industry and Three Proposals: Commerce vs. Sustainability

Providing further context for understanding issues in agribusiness and decision making later on, students will investigate in more depth the specifics of one industry. Students first revise their definition of sustainability, informed by additional research into its etymological origins. Students then watch a series of videos that show both the successes and complications of California’s booming almond growing industry. Students will then look at the economic growth of the almond industry over the last ten years using statistical graphs that detail the high export figures of almonds from California to the rest of the United States and the world. Students will also learn about the agricultural process involved in both the growing and harvesting of almonds in California, focusing in part on the amount of water it takes to grow just one almond.  Students compare and contrast maps of California that highlight areas of the state with the greatest concentration of almond farms with a map that indicates areas hardest hit by the drought and groundwater depletion. Students also do Internet research that focuses on the amount of water that major metropolitan areas consume versus the farming of almonds in the state and will then form teams to synthesize all gathered information and begin to make connections between agriculture, commercial success and sustainability. Using critical thinking skills, these teams will analyze the California almond industry, based on all gathered and synthesized information, and present three possible solutions, in writing, to the issue of building a successful agribusiness in the face of rapidly depleting resources. Finally, students will complete an individual reflection explaining whether or not they would continue to build an agricultural business plan using a popular cash crop, knowing that long term sustainability would be an impossibility or very difficult to maintain due to limited resources.    

Personal Narrative Essay and Reflection: Students Design The Perfect Meal and then The Practical New Agribusiness Idea

Students build on in depth statewide industry analysis from the prior assignment and in this assignment begin to analyze food more locally. Students will read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, paying particular attention to Chapters 16 “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and Chapter 20 “The Perfect Meal to become informed Re: human beings’ evolution as omnivores and of Pollan's experiment to recreate the hunter and gatherer lifestyle of our ancestors and design the perfect meal.

After “hunting and gathering” information on their own local food sources, students will write a personal narrative essay to articulate the challenges of truly eating what is locally available, and describe the stages by which they could develop their own version of The Perfect Meal. Students should document the stages of inquiry that lead them to discover what food sources would be available to them if they adopted the hunter and gatherer roles of our distant ancestors, and design a meal that adheres to Pollan's menu rules. 

Lastly, to articulate how agribusiness might hypothetically evolve to create practical new systems, services, and products to meet the new goal of a modern and healthy food lifestyle that is like our ancestors' students develop The Practical Agribusiness Idea. In a written reflection, students should imagine a future for agribusiness that is sourced from local and sustainable food sources and yet uses today's technologies and market systems to produce and distribute those foods. In their reflection, they should hypothesize and propose a new type of agribusiness system, service, or product that in theory could prove to be truly sustainable, true to our hunter-gatherer ancestors, and perhaps even profitable.  

Students will collect all work from this assignment into an electronic business portfolio for use in the development of the executive summary and business description of their business plan.

Research Paper:  Business Concept Viability

Students next focus their reading of Omnivore's Dilemma on parts one and two, in order to compare two models of the industrial food complex: industrial corn and Big Organics. For the purposes of this assignment, students will assume the role of entrepreneurs in either the industrial corn realm or the Big Organics realm. Within the context of a well-informed public that is aware of the problems and concerns of both realms, students will, based on their reading,  generate ideas for new products, services, or inventions that would address the public's concerns. The assignment is to do a little "due diligence" as they say in business start-ups and therefore to research a) the authenticity (i.e. copyright issues), b) the viability, and c) the legality of their business ideas. In addition, students will clearly identify their priorities as an agribusiness regarding profits, people and planet. 

Students will be evaluated on their ability to create a viable concept for agribusiness and their ability to apply research skills, synthesize information from multiple sources, including Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, and present compelling evidence that demonstrates the potential of this business idea.

All work produced from this assignment will be collected in an electronic business portfolio to be used as a resource for their business plan. The knowledge gained from this assignment will help students in the creation of their executive summary,  business description, and business operation portions of their business plan.

Unit 3 : Exploring the Opportunities

In this unit, students will evaluate the various market opportunities available within their neighborhood. Students will become field analysts and obtain information to compile a visual representation of their data. Students will conduct market research to provide them with a broader understanding of the sustainable market opportunities within their neighborhood and will use this information in the development of their business plan. Students will study career and educational pathways related to agribusiness so that they are informed as agripreneurs about the different areas of development in the industry. At the end of this unit, students will have gained an understanding of the careers and foundations of agribusiness, all through the continued development of their ELA skills, such as research skills, various form of summary writing, and taking a stand on issues uncovered in the texts. Students will build upon the business plan by learning how to research information and how to apply knowledge in the agripreneur field so that they may make informed decisions about their business.

Survey in Local Sustainability

Using the knowledge gained from previous readings and after reading excerpts from Gaining Ground by Forrest Pritchard, relevant to the importance of local food availability and sustainable farming, students will develop and administer a survey for a diverse audience geared towards understanding where their food comes from (i.e. what they bought, where they bought it, where the food comes from, how much they paid for it, etc). Students will analyze the results and create a visual representation of their respondents’ feedback in graph form that illustrates relationships between food availability and proximity to buyers, price, and origin.

Using the data represented in their visual, students will then categorize the fresh food choices on a sustainable scale and use this information, in addition to any other relevant evidence/information already gathered through research, to write a mid-length analytical paper determining whether or not the findings support sustainability in each researched category (fresh food choices) at the local level. They should attempt to determine whether or not those surveyed live in a food desert and develop a broader understanding of sustainability and its impact on agribusiness viability at the local level.

All work produced will be collected in an electronic portfolio to aid in the development of their business plan. The knowledge gained from this assignment will aid students as they develop the marketing and financial portions of their business plan.

Research: What Works for Me?

To develop a better understanding of their personal profile and preferences, students will read the first three chapters of Mindset, by Carol S. Dweck PhD and complete career and job duty interest surveys, personality assessments, a multiple intelligences survey, and/or other relevant career and personal assessments that can be found on the California Career Zone website, Personality Pathways website (Myers-Briggs assessment) and the LiteracyWorks website for a Multiple Intelligences assessment. Students will gather, analyze and organize the information from the various sources into a mid-length analysis of their findings, evaluating the assessment results and determining whether or not their personal preferences and strengths are a good match for the sustainable agribusiness field.

All work produced from this assignment will be collected in an electronic business portfolio to be used as a resource in the creation of their business plan. The knowledge gained from this assignment will assist students in the business description and business operations portions of their business plan.

Job Recruitment:  Brochure

After exploring their personal characteristics and preferences, students will delve deeper into sustainable agribusiness staffing needs as they learn which positions are necessary and what it takes to recruit potential employees. In small groups, students will research the various jobs necessary to run a mid-sized sustainable agricultural business. As a class, students will discuss the findings and develop a class list of positions necessary for the business. Using this list, each student will be assigned a specific job position to research using the California Career Zone website, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics website or other comparable websites. Each student will create a 3-5 fold job description brochure for their assigned position, detailing what the job entails, necessary academic preparation, employability requirements, compensation, job description and job outlook. Students present brochures in a gallery walk. Students will be evaluated on their ability to synthesize their research and to use rhetorical appeals to illustrate the significance of the position and its requirements. This exposure to their career interest profiler and to the various agribusiness professionals will assist students with future assignments in making informed decisions as they begin to plan for their proposed business venture.

All work produced from this assignment will be collected in an electronic business portfolio to be used as a resource in the creation of their business plan. The knowledge gained from this assignment will assist students in the business operations portion of their business plan.

Journey into Agribusiness: Sustainable Garden Design (Optional)

Based upon the readings covered earlier in the unit, the results of their research into sustainable agriculture and other resources such as the Sustainable Communities Network online or the Network for Business Sustainability, students will, if feasible, design a school garden that focuses on sustainability. A school garden can will provide the students with technical instruction and practical experience in some or all of the following: workplace safety, handling and caring for power hand tools, plant identification, soil analysis, landscape irrigation, weed abatement, pruning, plant propagation and a review of water management. Students will evaluate the required space for their project and determine an appropriate location for their garden which could include: an on-campus traditional garden (if space allows), an on-campus container garden (for limited space) or a community garden located on nearby public grounds, as permitted. Students will then research, discuss and outline the required materials and job duties to make the garden grow successfully and the processes run smoothly. Students will also use knowledge of their personal profiles to assign duties in running and maintaining the school garden. Students will then create a Farmer’s Market plan or other similar means of selling their product to the community. To document their learning process, students will create 5-7 podcasts journaling their progress as they make plans to plant their garden in the spring and implement their job responsibilities. Podcasts will cover student feedback on the sustainable garden needs, thoughts on the development of their agribusiness, and should include guest interviews from the sustainable agribusiness industry.

Unit 4 : Business Types

In the first three units students specifically investigated in part agribusiness ethics and sustainability and their own stance in relation to those topics in order to conceptualize an agribusiness that might align with their own values. In this unit, students begin to investigate business types and operations within a business in order to gain and apply knowledge of a more practical nature. Students will analyze books, texts articles and relevant websites to understand how entrepreneurs think and operate in order to be successful. Students also distinguish between various types of agribusiness models and analyze the possibilities and limitations of each as it applies to their potential career trajectory and business plan. Students will produce an analytical essay differentiating the risks and benefits inherent in each business type and begin the process of finalizing a decision on one agribusiness model to build their plan on. Students will collect their work in an electronic portfolio and utilize a business plan template to complete the first draft of their agribusiness plan.

Business Type Overview

Students will read Think Like a Freak by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner to help them gain an understanding of how entrepreneurs should think “outside the box”. Students will then evaluate and analyze the different types of agribusiness ownership  (such as cooperative, sole-proprietorship, partnership, corporation, etc.), including their unique benefits and risks, using a standards-approved entrepreneurship text such as Entrepreneurship by Brenda Clark and Judy Commers, excerpts from agribusiness-themed books such as Gaining Ground by Forrest Pritchard in regard to running an agribusiness, the Small Business Association (SBA) website, the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center website, or any additional related supplemental primary source articles or websites. Students will then form business teams to research a specific business type and its limitations, covering all the types as a class, to be used in future units and to help in the development of their business plan. Students will use this information to demonstrate the structure and roles within each business model through the evaluation of teacher chosen specific situations that reflect the uniqueness of that particular business structure. Using a spreadsheet program (such as Microsoft Excel), students develop a chart highlighting the similarities and differences between the different types of businesses, including brief summaries of each business type. This chart will be utilized as a guide for future assignments. Each student will write a 3-4 page analytical essay comparing and contrasting each ownership type to guide them through the remainder of the unit.

Students will collect their work for the assignment in an electronic portfolio to assist them in developing the executive summary and business operations portions of their business plan.

Research & Presentation: Business Operations

Students form collaborative groups that synthesize what they learned in the last assignment with their newly assigned readings focused on operating a sustainable agriculture business, that may include a standards-approved text on entrepreneurship, readings from Chapters 5 & 8 from Mindsets, by Carol S. Dweck, PhD, the SBA website, and other available resources (online and in the classroom). Student groups will focus their analysis on one of the business structures and apply their knowledge of the various business types learned in previous assignment to develop a sustainable agricultural business through the tenants of their particular business structure. Groups present their sustainable agricultural business to the class through a 10 minute minimum, multimedia format (PowerPoint, Prezi, posters, videos, etc.). Students will describe the business structure, how the business operates, and detail the advantages & disadvantages they face operating their sustainable agricultural business through their model. All work will be added to their electronic business portfolio for use when developing the business description and business operations portions of their business plan.

Business Ownership Essay: What’s Your Type?

After learning about the different forms of business structure from the previous assignment, students will read excerpts from Gaining Ground, by Forrest Pritchard relevant to succeeding as an agripreneur. Each student, in a hypothetical scenario, will “inherit” a large sum of money under the condition that they invest a portion of the inheritance into a sustainable agri-business venture. Each student will choose one business model that aligns with their entrepreneurial personality type, career interests, and strengths determined through surveys and assessments in Unit 3 to develop their venture. Students will independently investigate and research this business model. In a 2-3 page persuasive essay students will justify their decision with evidence and analysis. In investigating how the type of business model selected best matches their entrepreneurial personality, career focus and personal strengths students will be able to hone in on the business type most likely to garner success for their sustainable agricultural business.

All work will be added to their electronic business portfolio for use when developing the business description portion of their business plan.

Business Plan: Draft

Utilizing a business plan template, work collected in their business portfolios and sample business plans as models, students will independently compose a first draft of their proposed business plan. This plan will be a working document to be added to/revised throughout the remainder of the course, culminating in a final business plan proposal.

Unit 5 : Legal Issues: What am I really getting myself into?

Through reading, analysis and discussion of business law specific to agriculture, students will begin to understand how it can protect or negatively impact their agribusiness plan.  Students will analyze, research and reflect on some of the most current laws and issues that affect the agricultural business industry. Students will synthesize this research and analysis into detailed written preparation that will help them prepare for a series of mock trials and debates. The unit will culminate with a written critical analysis that will contribute to the revision and continuing development of their individual agribusiness plan.

Legal Advice and Debate

Students will read about entrepreneurial laws as it applies to agribusiness by engaging with a variety of complex and relevant readings such as online excerpts from Feeding Our Future: Six Philosophical Issues Shaping Agricultural Law by Hamilton, Neil D., the California Department of Food and Agriculture: Regulations online, the Sustainable Economies Law Center and the California Assembly Bill 2561- Personal Agriculture Restrictions online, and apply the information obtained to their draft business plan developed at the end of Unit 4. Students independently create 2-3 questions they would like to ask an attorney based on their first draft of their business plan.  Students present their questions to the class leading to discussion and debate in regard to the possible legal responses to these questions. A guest attorney will be invited to address the same questions posed by the students to provide authentic clarification of student questions posed. Students will write a 3-4 page paper comparing and contrasting the legal conclusions drawn by the class vs. those of the attorney. Students will add their work to their business portfolio for use in revising their business plan as necessary.

Research: Contemporary Legal Issues in Agribusiness

Students will research agribusiness court cases and other contemporary legal issues facing today's agribusiness industry that will help them gain an understanding of how the laws governing the agribusiness industry may affect their business. Using student conducted research, students will select 5 popular case studies and will write a 1-2 page analysis of each case, demonstrating an understanding of the law. Case studies such as the Naked Juices case using the Business Ethics Case Analyses blog and other industry-related cases may be used as models that will aid them in their understanding of legal issues facing the agribusiness industry; the court precedences will help prepare them for legal simulations they will encounter in their upcoming mock trials.

Agribusiness on Trial

Students will apply what they learned from their research and analysis in addition to online resources available to conduct mock trials based on simulated scenarios. Models for mock trials can be found online on websites such as the Constitutional Rights Foundation website. To conduct the trials, students will form 6 groups that cover both sides of three simulated cases selected by the class. Students research and develop a 3-5 page legal position supported by at least 4 credible sources (.org, .gov or academic journals) for one side of the simulated scenarios, as assigned or selected, that either defends or critiques the legal issue in question.  Both sides will prepare for the trial with their compiled research notes and credible sources to form an argument for their respective legal stance. Students will write a 1-2 page memorandum to their management team about the results of the case and what changes need to be made within their business practices as a result. Students will also write a 2-3 page critical analysis that compares and contrasts the mock trial results with the results of real life court cases. Students will use what they have learned from the mock trials to revisit their business plan draft and revise any areas that may make them vulnerable to legal action. All work will be added to their business portfolio and will be used to update the draft business plan as necessary.

Unit 6 : Funding and Marketing

In this unit, students analyze grant funding sources available for their proposed agribusiness. Students conduct research to investigate additional resources such as subsidies, tax breaks, small business loans, partnerships, and investors to assist them in evaluating the resources available to them as a future entrepreneur in order to make appropriate decisions in the feasibility of financing their proposed business. Students develop an action plan, conduct market research and develop marketing goals and then synthesize this information into the development of an ad campaign. Students will write an analysis of their ad, focusing on whether or not it reaches their target market and how it aligns/does not align with their proposed business plan; students present their marketing campaign along with their research findings to the class. For their capstone project, the students’ business plans will provide a final synthesis of the learning accomplished throughout the course.  Final revisions will be completed and submitted.

Grants and Pitches

Students will read from multiple sources regarding financial planning for new business ventures to determine methods for developing financial projections for a new business. Students use this information to calculate revenue and expense projections to determine the amount of “seed money” necessary to start their business. Resources will include standards-approved text(s) on entrepreneurship, relevant excerpts from Gaining Ground, by Forrest Pritchard, the SBA website, and other available resources (online and in the classroom). Students will read various sample grant proposals that can be found online on the SBA website, or the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture website to analyze their structure and format in order to write their own grant proposal to fund their proposed agribusiness. Students use persuasion, proper language and formatting for their intended audience to convince the agency or institution of the validity of their new business. Students develop a pitch to local business and community leaders that will include a detailed written presentation with supporting documentation and/or a 10 minute minimum multimedia presentation such as PowerPoint or Prezi. Students will acquire professional advice offered by the invited guests and apply that advice to a revision of their grant proposal that will be added to their business plan. Students will write a reflection based upon the experience. All work produced will be added to their business portfolio and used to update their business plan as needed.

Marketing Campaign

Using a standards-approved entrepreneurship text to help students evaluate industry acceptable marketing techniques (such as Marketing Dynamics by Clark, Basteri, Gassen and Walker, or Entrepreneurship by Brenda Clark and Judy Commers, relevant excerpts from Gaining Ground by Forrest Pritchard, the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center website, and related online videos such as YouTube’s Agribusiness Marketing,students will design an ad campaign utilizing the Four Ps of Marketing (product, price, place and promotion) for a sustainable product that is part of their agribusiness line. Students develop a 3 page action plan, conduct market research in the form of student interviews and focus groups, and develop 5 marketing goals based on the business goals established in their draft business plan. Students select the most effective advertising method for their target market (i.e. social media, internet, magazine, radio, television) based on their research results and synthesize the collected information in order to develop a 2-3 page written analysis of the advertisement selected as it appeals to the ethics, emotions, logic (i.e. ethos/pathos/logos) of the target consumer. Students present their reasoning and research behind the marketing campaign to the class and include one completed advertisement that is posted on a classroom developed Facebook page. All work produced will be added to their business portfolio and used to update their business plan as necessary.

Garden Business (Optional)

Using the garden plan developed in Unit 3, along with the business knowledge gained in Units 4-6 and any additional resources found from the Sustainable Communities Network online, the Network for Business Sustainability or other schools implementing a similar program, students will put their garden plan into action for an in-ground or container garden on school grounds, or a community garden at an off-sight public location as previously determined. Students will implement their job responsibilities for the remainder of the course. Students will create a press release, following industry standards, for the Farmer’s Market and will advertise and sell their produce to the local community to raise funds for future garden projects. Students will continue to podcast their progress as they journey into a sustainable agribusiness by using it as an informational, marketing and documentary tool.

Business Plan: Final Revision

The culminating project for this year-long course will serve as a comprehensive research report based upon the agripreneurial knowledge gained by the student throughout the year, resulting in their proposal for a sustainable agribusiness. In developing this proposal over the course of the year, students created a draft of their plan that was revised and expanded throughout the remainder of the course so that students could apply their learning to their proposed business plan. In creating this business plan, students collected their work in a business portfolio then applied the skills and knowledge gained to their business plan. Students researched ethical and unethical concerns and practices in agribusinesses, surveyed and analyzed their own personal traits, interests, strengths and career goals, evaluated market opportunities and natural resources available both locally and globally to generate ideas for their business venture and synthesized this information to determine how to best merge their personal traits and views within the scope of agribusiness as future entrepreneurs.

Once students evaluated the ethical issues, examined and identified their ideal career choice within the agribusiness job category, students researched, analyzed and identified the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of business ownership so that they could determine what type of business structure best met their needs and preferences. Students then analyzed current legal issues facing the agribusiness industry, gained authentic feedback from industry professionals on questions and concerns they identified. Students conducted mock trials to apply what they learned to hypothetical scenarios in order to help them gain an understanding of how legal issues affect and influence business practices. To understand the financial planning and responsibilities involved in started and running a business, students conducted research to develop financial projections. These projections were used to help understand the amount of funding necessary to start and maintain their business. After researching grant funding opportunities and analyzing sample grant proposals, students synthesized their financial projections with funding opportunities to create and defend their own grant proposal for their proposed business. Students researched and developed an ad campaign for a sustainable product from their proposed agribusiness line and analyzed how the campaign reached their target market through the use of ethics, emotions and logic in the campaign.

Utilizing their draft business plan developed throughout the course, students complete  their business plan following a real-world model, course textbooks and supplemental materials. The main sections of the final business plan should include:

  • Writing Style
    • The final draft should use a formal business communications format and points should be clear and succinct to reflect the student’s awareness of the audience being addressed.
  • Executive Summary (no more than 2 pages)
    • Provides a succinct overview that highlights the problem being solved by the business and the main points from the business plan to entice potential investors to read the entire document.
  • Business Description
    • Includes business goals, company vision statement, mission statement, business overview, description of the product or service and the business location so that potential investors gain insight into the values, expectations for the business, and are convinced that significant planning went into product selection in a highly visible market area.
  • Market Evaluation
    • In addition to the research conducted in the course regarding the target market, this section should include information on industry and economic conditions to reflect a strong knowledge base regarding the current state of the industry.
  • Business Operations
    • Provides information on the day-to-day activities with support from the unit assignment in the course including the organizational structure, management team plan, and marketing strategies. If additional employees are to work for the company from the start, provide job descriptions and a plan for hiring, training and managing those employees. A risk management plan should also be included to identify your plan for handling the various risks that may occur while running your business. This allows potential investors to understand how you plan for your business to function successfully.
  • Financial Plan
    • Based upon the research and planning accomplished for the grant assignment, students will outline their plan for how much money, or capital, is necessary to start their business and a plan for how they will obtain those funds or “seed money”.
    • Provide financial statements based upon their projected future sales and expenses and other financial details forecasted.
    • A 3-5 year growth plan including goals and strategies, how the growth will affect the business and plans for sustaining the business, including contingency plans. These elements are necessary to show there is a sound plan for business startup, along with practical forecasts that reflect financial promise and a back up plan in the event unexpected circumstances arise.
  • Conclusion
    • This is the final opportunity for students to pitch their plan and sell it to potential investors. It should be persuasive, easy to read and contain a summary of why the business will succeed and conclude with a request for funding.

The final business plan is the culminating project that is the result of all student work in this course and will include all final revisions, additions and research findings.

Students will present their business plans to a panel of teachers, agribusiness professionals, and entrepreneurs from the community, as necessary and available, for authentic feedback on their research.

Course Materials

Textbooks Used

  • Entrepreneurship by Brenda Clark and Judy Commers
    Marketing Dynamics by Clark, Basteri, Gassen and Walker
Full Length Texts
  • Fiction: Prodigal Summer, The Grapes of Wrath
  • Non-fiction: Omnivores Dilemma, The Jungle
    Mindset, by Carol S. Dweck PhD, The New Philosophy of Success
    Gaining Ground by Forrest Pritchard
    Think Like a Freak by Levitt & Dubner
    Starting & Running Your Own Small Farm Business: Small-Farm Success Stories by Sarah Beth Aubrey

Web Resources

Unit 1 - Agricultural Sciences and Ethics

Unit 2 - Introduction to Sustainable Agricultural Entrepreneurship
Unit 3 - Exploring the Opportunities
Unit 4 - Business Types
Unit 5 - Legal Issues: What am I really getting myself into?
Unit 6 - Funding and Marketing

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