Kentucky State University’s (KSU) College of Agriculture Food Science and Sustainable Systems (CAFSSS) has received a teaching capacity grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)/National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to enhance environmental science education under KSU’s newly launched undergraduate program in Agriculture, Food, and Environment (AFE).

The overall objective of this grant project, which is called, “Strengthening Environmental Science Program for Preparing Minority Young Scientists for the 21st Century,” is to enhance and strengthen the environmental science curriculum by providing a wider scope of environmental science courses and experiential learning opportunities to students.

Over the three-year project period (2013-2016), we are reviewing curricula and developing six new courses, offering a dual-credit course to high school students, launching a summer bridge program, creating competitive stipends, and enhancing the mentoring and advising available to students.

This program offers KSU students the opportunity to engage in various experiential learning experiences, including water quality monitoring, Geographic Information System (GIS) and remote sensing-based studies of landscape and hydrology of the Kentucky River, profiling of ecosystems, soil quality, runoff and flora and fauna in the Kentucky River Watershed.

This project supports KSU’s goal of elevating its educational programs to higher standards with competent faculty who will have enhanced teaching capabilities and use market-responsive curricula. We also seek to enhance our recruitment, retention and graduation rates. This project also seeks to strengthen and expand KSU’s collaborative linkages with high schools, private companies and the government for the purposes of recruitment, internships and cooperative education.

The major outcome of this project will be a strengthened undergraduate program in Agriculture, Food and Environment, with an enhanced Environmental Science option. This will help develop a pipeline of students for the Masters in Environmental Studies program at KSU. Our goal is to use innovative curricula and teaching pedagogy to produce young environmental scientists with knowledge and research exposure in environmental management, geospatial applications and climate change studies.

The project, 1890 Capacity Building Grant Award #2013-38821-21120, is funded by USDA/NIFA.