Two new projects in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University will aim to attract underrepresented students and increase the number of graduates who are prepared to enhance the country’s food and agricultural scientific and professional workforce.

The Hispanic-Serving Institutions Education Grants Program from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded a four-year, $975,314 grant to Steven Fraze, Agricultural and Extension Education department head, and a four-year, nearly $275,000 grant to Pamela Martinez, Innovative Media Research and Extension assistant professor.

“This is a very important project that goes directly to the heart of agricultural literacy linked to the diversity, equity and inclusion initiative in ACES; two very important initiatives that we have in the ACES College under Goal 4 of the LEADS 2025 strategic plan,” said College of ACES Dean Rolando Flores Galarza. “We are delighted that Steven Fraze and Pamela Martinez were able to bring these funds and initiatives together to have a positive impact on the youth of New Mexico.”

Fraze’s project, “Young Agri-Scientists: Connecting diverse students to each other and food, agricultural and natural resources systems and sciences careers through experiential learning in mentored research and science communication,” is a collaboration with Texas Tech University, which aims “to increase diverse student graduates who meet the global need for the next generation of leading agricultural scientists who are as well-versed in conducting sound food, agricultural and natural resources systems and sciences research as they are in the diffusion of research and innovation through science communication.

“This program will provide, evaluate and continuously enhance transformative learning opportunities and leadership development with an emphasis on food, agriculture, natural resources and human sciences for increasingly diverse and socially mobile student bodies at NMSU and TTU,” he said. “We propose a food, agriculture, natural resources and human sciences experiential learning program with an emphasis on building a student-community cohort engaged in mentored research and science communication.”

The goal of Martinez’s project, “Innovators from marginalized communities: interactive labs which help students see themselves in agricultural careers,” is to help undergraduate students expand their identity as someone with a potential career in agriculture and increase the interest in pursuing a career in agriculture.

“This research-based project will develop online, interactive virtual labs that help students from marginalized communities see themselves in agricultural careers, while building conceptual understanding of agricultural science topics,” Martinez said.

To view the entire list of Hispanic-Serving Institutions Education Grants Program awards, visit https://nifa.usda.gov/program/hispanic-serving-institutions-education-grants-program?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=

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