Regional consortium secures $18M grant to foster equity in agriculture workforce development
Janey Camp, research professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Vanderbilt Center for Transportation and Operational Resiliency, is part of a regional consortium that has won an $18 million grant to enable minority-serving institutions to build and sustain the next generation of the food, agriculture, natural resources and human sciences workforce.
The project, NEXTGENeration Inclusion Consortium for Building the Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Human Sciences Pipeline (FANHP), is led by John C. Ricketts, professor of agricultural sciences at Tennessee State University, and is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
The consortium includes faculty from Fort Valley State University, Alcorn State University, the University of Houston, Chief Dull Knife College, Middle Tennessee State University, University of Tennessee–Martin, University of Tennessee–Knoxville, Virginia Tech and the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences organization, according to a TSU announcement.
Camp’s role on the five-year project will be to develop and deliver a virtual course on climate science and its impacts on agriculture for graduate students and immersive course materials for K-12 students and teachers that focus on geospatial technologies and natural resources with climate change impacts to agricultural systems accounted for. These materials will be disseminated as professional development workshops for teachers in the latter years of the project. Camp plans to also host undergraduate students from minority-supporting institutions for summer research experiences as part of the grant.
“I am delighted to be part of the project team led by Dr. Ricketts. This project has great potential to make a significant impact on the lives of numerous students and shape the future of agriculture in the United States,” Camp said. “As a research professor, it is such a rewarding experience to engage in projects like this, which allow for integration of diverse interests and skills while collaborating with exceptional individuals.”
Camp’s colleagues will be developing other programs related to FAHNP in support of the project’s goal to boost awareness of career options in the field. Funding for the project will also support TSU students to apply for full tuition and board scholarships, study abroad programs, internships and other learning opportunities that expose them to careers in FANHP.
The NEXTGEN grant program is a part of USDA NIFA’s $262.5 million investment in institutions of higher education to develop diverse agricultural professionals. The program is funded by President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. Of the 33 awarded projects across 24 states, only five were awarded in Tier 3, which encompasses projects up to $20 million and including at least three institutions across two states.