Mesa Community College Urban Horticulture and Agribusiness Program Awarded EPA Environmental Education Grant

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The Urban Horticulture and Agribusiness program at Mesa Community College, in partnership with the Roosevelt School District and RighTrac, Inc., received a two-year $108,000 Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Education grant to establish a Center for Urban Agriculture.

Mesa Community Horticulture

Mesa Community Horticulture

This cutting-edge technology, this potent form of STEM education, is an exciting way to bring math and science into our classrooms. --Lawrence Robinson, Roosevelt School District Governing Board Member

The Urban Horticulture and Agribusiness program at Mesa Community College (MCC), in partnership with the Roosevelt School District and RighTrac, Inc., received a two-year $108,000 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Education grant to establish a Center for Urban Agriculture (CUA). The Center will serve as a hub for the development and dissemination of educational programs focused on sustainable agriculture and community enhancement.

One new course to arise from this program is Aquaponics AGS166. “Aquaponics is an advanced method of aquaculture where fish provide nutrients to grow plants which in turn filter water to sustain fish,” said Peter Conden, Director of MCC’s Urban Horticulture Program. “This course is our petri dish. Whatever comes out of this we will propagate.”

The Roosevelt School District will be the first to benefit from the outputs of the grant. Using its greenhouse classroom and gardens MCC, along with Rightrac, Inc., will develop an aquaponics-based STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum for K-8 students and train educators and volunteers to deliver the new curriculum.

“This cutting-edge technology, this potent form of STEM education, is an exciting way to bring math and science into our classrooms,” said Lawrence Robinson, Roosevelt School District Governing Board Member. More than 1,000 Roosevelt District students will benefit from hands-on learning from on-site aquaponic systems made possible through sub-grants to four of the District’s schools.”

Project partner and aquacultural/STEM education specialists, RighTrac, Inc., will facilitate monthly community education workshops at Brooks Community School throughout the duration of the grant. “We’re glad to have the opportunity to share our knowledge and experience of this fairly new concept with our community,” stated James Hicks, CEO, RighTrac, Inc.

The grant also provides funds to develop a Sustainable Agriculture degree program at MCC. “We are grateful to the EPA for the infusion of funds to develop new curriculum and raise awareness of the importance of ecosystem stewardship, civic responsibility and early STEM education,” said Bob Bonura, Chair of MCC’s Applied Sciences & Technology Department.

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About Mesa Community College
Mesa Community College provides outstanding transfer and career and technical programs, workforce development, and life-long learning opportunities to residents of the East Valley area of Phoenix, Arizona. MCC excels in teaching, learning and empowering its more than 40,000 students who attend annually to succeed in a local and global community. Mesa Community College is one of ten colleges that comprise the Maricopa County Community College District. For additional information please visit http://www.mesacc.edu.

About MCC’s Urban Horticulture / Agribusiness Program
The Urban Horticulture program at MCC prepares students for a variety of careers as technicians, supervisors, managers, or owners in wholesale or retail nurseries, landscape design and construction operations, or landscape management companies. In addition, the program prepares students for careers with local, state, and federal government agencies involved with the technical phases of the Urban Horticulture industry. The program, a member of the American Community Garden Association (ACGA), operates MCC Farmer’s Market in conjunction with the Mesa Legend Newspaper and the Mesa Community College American Marketing Association clubs, and the MCC Garden Project.

The Maricopa County Community College District is an EEO/AA institution and an
equal opportunity employer of protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.

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