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Inter American University gets $400K USDA grant to teach biodiversity

​​The Inter American University is one of 21 educational institutions selected to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) Education Grants Program.

The local college was granted $399,999 to develop the Puerto Rico Field Interdisciplinary Experiences for Learning about Diversity (PR-FIELD) program to increase students’ knowledge and skills in agroecology, biodiversity conservation for agriculture, and how to become agricultural entrepreneurs.

In its project description, the San Juan-based academic institution explained that the goal “will be achieved through the revision and redesign of existing courses to include experiential learning and research activities that incorporate agroecology and the importance of biodiversity in agriculture.”

PR-FIELD will develop workshops, host scientific research seminars and research experiences for Hispanic undergraduate students at the school’s Metro Campus.

“Students will be mentored to pursue careers in farming-related disciplines and will provide outreach and educational opportunities for high school students,” according to the project description.

“Ultimately, PR-FIELD will lead to an increased retention and graduation rates of the biology, microbiology and natural sciences programs at Inter Metro. PR-FIELD will meet these objectives during a four-year period to impact a minimum of 460 students and four faculty members,” the project further stated.

The HSI Education Grants Program is administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and aligns with USDA’s efforts to “cultivate the next generation of food and agricultural professionals and build the workforce of the future by providing academic support and career opportunities to enhance and increase access for Hispanic and underrepresented students.”

In total, NIFA has awarded funding to 21 HSIs across 25 projects. Inter American University was the sole recipient from Puerto Rico.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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