New Grant Program Introduces Youth to Sustainable Agriculture
GRIFFIN, Georgia – A group of high school and undergraduate college students got the opportunity to help further sustainable agriculture research and education through a new Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) grants program.
The Young Scholar Enhancement Grants Program is an extension of SSARE’s Research & Education Grants that allows youth to partner with researchers on SSARE-funded projects for the summer to participate in sustainable agriculture research.
“The grant program emphasizes either research or Extension outreach and immerses Young Scholars in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and social science activities with the intention of increasing their interest in fields related to sustainable agriculture,” said Jeff Jordan, SSARE program director.
Many of the SSARE funded projects are ideally suited for student internship mentoring opportunities. The goal of the program is to engage youth in the collegiate process and encourage pursuit of college degrees emphasizing sustainable agriculture.
The first Young Scholar Enhancement Grants were awarded this year. Grant recipients created a poster outlining their research project.
LS10-226: Short Life in Sustainability; YSE Scholar Tyler Higgins; Appalachian State University. The objectives of the YSE project included experiencing practical hands-on learning in integrated agricultural systems; investigating the impact on microbial status of eggs of integrating poultry with cattle operations; developing enterprise budgets for integrated livestock systems; and developing outreach materials.
LS10-231: Weed Management and Nematode Communities in Organic Coffee Farms of Puerto Rico; YSE Scholar Nydia L. Mejias; University of Puerto Rico. The objective of the YSE project included evaluating the effectiveness of different organic weed management practices in established organic CAFS and coffee farms transitioning to organic CAFS; and determining the effect of different organic weed management practices on the ecosystem service of soil nematode diversity conservation.
LS11-241: Formulation Development to Increase Nematode Efficacy in Suppression of the Lesser Peach tree Borer, Synanthedon pictipes; YSE Scholar Rickola Smith; USDA-ARS. The overall goal of the project was to develop a non-toxic formulation to protect beneficial insect-killing nematodes from ultraviolet radiation and/or desiccation to increase efficacy in suppression of the lesser peach tree borer and other insects that attack aboveground crops.
LS12-249: Learning Experience of Organic Rice Production; YSE Scholar Garrett Floyd; Texas A&M University. Floyd assisted in the project by conducting gas and water samplings of organic rice farms, as well as conducted vial preparations, field sampling and laboratory operations.
LS12-250: Extending the Market Season with High Tunnel Technology for Organic Fruit Production: an internship and apprenticeship for sustainable horticulture; YSE Scholar Kat Ginsberg; University of Arkansas. Ginsberg managed an experiment on the effects of shade on primocane blackberry growth, flowering, and yield in field conditions. Shade was used as a management tool to delay flowering and to improve fruit quality in a high temperature and high solar radiation environment.
LS12-251: Internship on Mapping Sustainable Farm Systems: An experiential introduction to sustainable agriculture; YSE Scholar Spencer Shanholtz; University of Kentucky, Virginia Tech, University of Tennessee. Shanholz researched the "sense of place" for the study area by compiling and organizing geospatial data, transcribing farmer focus group discussions, participating in a farm observation walk, and putting together a preliminary system dynamics of a sustainable agriculture operation.
The Southern SARE Administrative Council plans to offer the grants again in 2014. Research and Education Grant research recipients with open and on-going SSARE funded projects are qualified to apply for the Young Scholar Enhancement Grant Program to hire high school or college students to participate in their research program.
Learn more about the Young Scholar Enhancement Grant Program.
Published by the Southern Region of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Southern SARE operates under cooperative agreements with the University of Georgia, Fort Valley State University, and the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture to offer competitive grants to advance sustainable agriculture in America's Southern region.