Date of Award


Level of Access

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Food and Nutrition Sciences


Dorothy Klimis-Zacas

Second Committee Member

Adrienne A. White

Third Committee Member

Richard A. Cook


The constructs of the Social Cognitive Theory and precepts of experiential learning were applied to the adaptation, implementation, and evaluation of an out-of-school nutrition education intervention. The intervention was conducted with youth (n=77), 6-12 years, attending four separate Cooperative Extension 4-H programs offered in out-of -school settings. A non-randomized, quasi-experimental, 4-group research study was conducted to assess the impacts of the nutrition education curriculum using validated research instruments (measuring fruit and vegetable preference and intake, and self-efficacy in fruit and vegetable behavior) at pre-(before lesson 1) and post-(after lesson 6) intervention when utilized as a stand-alone curriculum as well as in conjunction with the “Kids Can Grow” (KCG) 4-H gardening program. During the six lesson intervention treatment groups met every two to four weeks dependent on whether it was the nutrition education (NE) only, gardening (KCG) only, or nutrition education + gardening (NE + KCG) group; youth in NE and NE + KCG groups received a 40-50 minute nutrition education lesson beginning with a physical activity and ending in youth preparation and consumption of a fruit and vegetable based snack before continuation of normal 4-H club programming (either KCG or a non garden-based club (NE)). The KCG group participated only in the gardening program. The control group (a non nutrition-education, non garden-based club) received only the pre- and post-assessments, 23 weeks apart, to coincide with the time between pre- and post-assessment in the treatment groups. Analyses included two- and one-way analysis of variance, paired t-tests, and nonparametric tests. Increases in fruit and vegetable preference were seen in all treatment groups (p≤0.015 to 0.0001), while the control group decreased reported preference (p≤0.005). Increased self-efficacy for fruit and vegetable behavior was reported in NE and NE + KCG groups (p≤0.002 to 0.0001), but not KCG or control groups. There were trends of increased fruit and vegetable intake for treatment groups, in particular NE + KCG. Further research is needed to facilitate the availability of theory-based nutrition education curricula that can be used alone and/or with 4-H programming and to assess such curricula using validated research instruments and rigorous evaluation design.