November 1, 2023

How Youth Learn and Develop – The Case for Practical Exposure

There are many benefits of teaching students practical skills along with a regular grade school curriculum. An underrated set of skills nowadays that supplements an academic classroom experience well is raising plants and animals. The opportunity to get youngsters learning outside the classroom and moving around is a simple, but important benefit. A special learning opportunity is agriculture and aquaculture destined for international trade that spans several different disciplines and lines of work, which exposes students widely. One such opportunity is coffee growth.

A major benefit of agriculture and aquaculture (raising fish) is that young people can envision themselves carrying out the same actions, or related ones, now, or later. The biological aspect or the business principles may pique their interest. In any case, the practical exposure of agriculture enhances the upper-grade school experience. In this post, we’ll illustrate the opportunity Subida Coffee Co. offers to youth to foster their development.  

Envisioning the Future and Planning

In any environment that develops youth, the foremost component of efforts in learning and developing is envisioning a great outcome. Setting goals to channel their efforts comes next. What will students be prepared for as they’re reaching adulthood? Envisioning young people with a battery of skills and knowledge with which to navigate life is vital. Of course, a traditional grade school education does its best. However, outside countries like Germany, the transition from schooling into adult life leaves many students less than prepared. Some families need their teenagers to start working however they can. Other students don’t have any pressure to remain in school. It’s important to cultivate skills in young people and to create replicable organizations that help them be successful. 

The importance of having a vision and concrete goals for organized education is undeniable. Having practical skills that could be traded for money, or for additional training and experience, makes all the difference in creating a smooth transition to adulthood. Young people have great experiences learning through action. Real-world examples and tangible results are more invigorating. That’s why children look forward to field trips for weeks—getting out and experiencing action is important.

Subida Coffee Co.’s proceeds help educate forty teenagers annually in a high school located on a 120-acre farm and agricultural training center. It provides a high school learning experience with embedded visions and goals. It also offers a bit of fun, active learning through agriculture. By modeling agricultural success; business principles; biology, ecology and sustainability, the students residing there have field trip-like experiences regularly—but with the added benefit of watching organized work turn into sellable food. The food is valued locally and the coffee is sold internationally.

Tangible Knowledge and Skills

Many people get frustrated with classroom learning because of the lack of applicability. Some kids know they’ll never again use trigonometry or analyze poetry. However, whenever students work on a project with a tangible outcome, like building a structure, creating a product or writing a pamphlet—they’re often more engaged. A stronger sense of pride in their work is common. While knowing a wide variety of facts is important, learning skills and facts for which students can see immediate applicability can propel their learning further, faster.

With skills that are intensely applicable in Honduran mountain communities, Subida Coffee Co. stands out as a special opportunity to empower youth. By providing the opportunity for hands-on learning and involvement in operations bigger than a class, the educators at Subida immerse students in opportunity. The botanical aspect of farming piques the interest of some students. Others enjoy learning about growing food or processing a crop into a product. Some might light up when learning about how to run a business or organization. Others enjoy the hands-on aspect of caring for the plants or processing the coffee. Marketing the coffee, or the links in the international chain that bring the coffee to drinkers in North America are other common points of interest for Honduran teenagers. While the education and opportunities outside the classroom aren’t limitless, they do provide students with structure, exposure and participation in a multi-faceted operation. Knowing that they could work in one of these aspects helps foster self-driven, or at least more energetic, learning.

Scaffolding and Guidance to Results

Young people don’t just need knowledge and skills—they need scaffolding to climb to higher, more complex skills and knowledge bases. Many people take for granted the scaffolding that educational environments, teachers, curriculums and hands-on learning experiences like labs, practicums and field trips create. The chance to witness many different processes taking place, and to participate at times, is invaluable. 

Subida Coffee Co. provides much more than normal high school learning scaffolding. With integration into a little community focused on development and possibility, the Moses Project (where Subida coffee is grown) offers students a chance to see adults running a successful agricultural enterprise. Better yet, they’re able to see the course of a life can change quickly with education, hard work and planning. Students witness planting, growing and harvesting. They witness that the agricultural engineers had to learn many facts about plants, climates and ecosystems in order to plan and execute. The coordination of the engineers’ and farm workers’ actions based on those facts is on display. The long-term results they witness and feel a part of is Subida coffee being valued (and enjoyed!) in other countries.

Active, Non-Classroom Learning with Honduran Coffee

Of course, learning about the growth of crops and animals provides an opportunity to learn outside the classroom. By raising tilapia, poultry and learning about fungal and insect pests, student exposure isn’t restricted to plant life. With their foundation of knowledge about living things, students can use nature as their continued classroom.

Lessons in Teamwork and Synergy

Residential education offers unique opportunities for students to work with others. That includes adults as well as their peers. By being involved in diverse projects, learning and entertainment, students find themselves in different roles in team endeavors. At times, they might be a leader. Other times, they might be one of the hardest workers. Idea generators emerge, along with motivators, supporters, risk identifiers and the average participant. When students are exposed to more than just classroom learning regularly, they develop more fully.

At Subida, whether it’s a class project, a trip to document the coffee’s current growth stage, an informal soccer game or a spiritual endeavor, there is always an opportunity to interact in groups in meaningful ways. Teamwork that can center around a tangible result, like helping with coffee processing, can show students the power of cooperation and synergy. Of course, living with classmates can also teach tolerance. Getting along is important in life. Overall, Subida provides more opportunities to develop in groups than students would have if they dropped out of school or went straight to work.

Youth Empowerment through Honduran Coffee

Subida Coffee Co. grows coffee in the mountains of the Copán department of Honduras. Outside of Santa Rosa, the efforts of Mission UpReach provide a beacon of hope for families hoping to give their sons opportunities. As the seat of the department and a main transportation hub for the area, Santa Rosa can provide a great model of sustainable farming for a great cause. An agricultural endeavor with traceable international sales provides motivation to the next generation of Hondurans.

The highlands of western Honduras produce excellent coffee. With adequate cloud cover and year-round rainfall, Subida’s beans are making a name for Honduran single-origin coffees. With a dark roast and medium roast delivered subscription style, Subida offers an opportunity to support a stand-up educational organization. Subida channels its profit into providing youth with multi-faceted opportunities to develop into focused, skilled, knowledgeable adults.

The coffee of Subida Coffee Co. is grown by the team at the Moses Project, a 120-acre commercial farm and agriculture training center in a small community outside of Santa Rosa de Copán.
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