Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Art Education


Art Education

First Advisor

Melanie Buffington, PhD

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Cramer, PhD

Third Advisor

Sarah Cunningham, PhD


This study constructs themes and propositions about the experiences of youth participants in the fall 2013 Food Landscapes program at the Neighborhood Resource Center in Richmond, Virginia. During the program, youth participated in cooking-based volunteerism with adults with disabilities and created short videos about their experiences. In this study, I analyzed pre- and post-program participant interviews, twice-weekly program observations, and facilitator reflections to understand how Food Landscapes affected youths’ conception of community engagement and communication strategies. This case study offers insight into how youth experience after-school programming of this design. Based on my findings, youth develop and rely upon a sense of togetherness in out-of-school programs. Togetherness as a bridge to commitment strengthens participation. Individually, youth need to form personal connections to and/or empathy with the content areas of the program in order to derive meaning, critically reflect, and problem solve. Furthermore, the youth articulated their perceptions of the community and the program by developing, organizing, and voicing their ideas of cooking/food, volunteering, and art making. By sharing research about the experiences of youth in after-school programming, organizations and educators can better construct, facilitate, and sustain youth participation and engagement.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission