Instrumentation and Experiential Learning

Instrumentation and Experiential Learning in Agroecology, 2008

The purpose of this project is to enrich its Agroecology Program by infusing scientific instrumentation into curriculum, establishing a campus organic garden, and recruiting and retaining minority students into agriculture sciences. The program targets a large body of Hispanic students (55% out of 38,000) and freshmen entering the University with high school agriculture diploma. The program is built on an alliance of multiple agencies: FIU, USDA-Subtropical Horticultural Research Station, MacArthur Agro-Ecology Research Center, Miami Dade College, high schools, and local farmers. We propose to: (a) purchase two scientific instruments, (b) establish a campus organic garden, (c) promote experiential learning through internships and tours, (d) to recruit underrepresented students, (e) offer online sustainable agriculture course, (f) train high school teachers and students in agroecology, (g) give one scholarship for a Hispanic student to make transition from a 2-year to 4-year and graduate school in agri-science.

Agroecology is the program’s overarching theme that encompasses ecology, crop sciences, natural resource management and economics. Thus, the program directly contributes to the achievement of USDA Strategic Goal 6 of protecting and enhancing natural resource bases. The program also addresses three educational need areas: minority student recruitment and retention, experiential learning, and scientific instrumentation. The greatest measurable impact of the project is that students of underrepresented communities in a non-land grant university will acquire agriculture science training with scientific and practical skills, and join the nation’s agricultural workforce including USDA. The project will thus provide USDA an additional, cost-effective agriculture educational alliance in South Florida.