Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Downey, Laura Hall

Committee Member

Denny, Marina D.

Committee Member

Peterson, Donna J.

Committee Member

Seal, Susan D.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Agricultural and Extension Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


Amongst the breathtaking and mountainous landscapes of the Western Highlands is a highly indigenous Mayan population stricken with challenges of food insecurity and extreme poverty. Despite efforts by governmental and non-governmental organizations alike to combat these challenges, the results of chronic malnutrition have led to some of the highest child stunting rates in all of Guatemala, particularly in the department of Totonicapán, where this study took place. To date, information is limited regarding agricultural programs that utilize the rabbit as a model to reduce food insecurity in Guatemala. Thus, a novel agricultural education program, Guatemala Rabbit Project (GRP), was developed using a farm-to-fork and hands-on training approach to provide women with knowledge and skills needed to successfully raise rabbits for household consumption. The overarching purpose of this study is to evaluate the GRP as an agricultural intervention among women in three Western Highlands communities. The REAIM evaluation framework, developed for and widely utilized to evaluate public health interventions, was used to assess reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation, and maintenance of the GRP among participants. The first aim of this study was to conduct a process evaluation utilizing reach, adoption, and implementation dimensions of RE-AIM. Findings suggest that the target population was reached, and adoption rates (84%) were promising. In general, GRP adopters adhered to the best management practices taught during the training, as reflected by observational scores across a variety of management topics indicating successful implementation. The second study aimed to evaluate the outcomes of the GRP utilizing effectiveness and maintenance dimensions of RE-AIM. Findings suggest that the GRP could serve as a household agricultural intervention based on the reported benefits and positive unintended outcomes discovered. Participants provided feedback about challenges that will be used to expand training content. Overall, findings provide evidence that the GRP could be a sustainable agricultural intervention, increasing access to animal protein while also providing households with an additional source of income.