Nevada State College received a $54,746 STEM Workforce Challenge Grant for a Horticultural Science certificate program. The grant will fund curriculum development and infrastructure for the program, including a 25,000-square-foot outdoor garden farm on NSC’s campus, as well as a small indoor hydroponics garden. Both will be used as part of the certificate program, giving students hands-on experience with both indoor and outdoor agricultural systems adapted to the desert environment. Students can earn the Horticultural Science certificate in two semesters; the program will cover desert ecosystems, hydroponic systems, permaculture, and the latest research on food production in arid climates. As part of their coursework, students will spend several hours per week doing research in the garden under faculty supervision. The certificate prepares students for jobs such as garden, farm, or greenhouse managers; produce inspectors; garden consultants; and hydroponics management and sales.
"We’re thrilled to be able to provide this unique learning opportunity for our students, who will get hands-on experience and a chance to do independent research projects," shared Dr. Gwen Sharp, Associate Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "And employers will have a source of future employees who have training that prepares them to work in Nevada’s 'green industry,' so the program also fills an economic need. Overall, it benefits our campus and the wider Nevada community."
NSC will partner with community stakeholders in planning the curriculum to ensure it meets the needs of Nevada’s sustainable desert and hydroponics agricultural sectors. Representatives from Green Our Planet, Garden Farms, Valley Fresh Veggies, and the Springs Preserve have already committed to sitting on the advisory board. Planning will begin immediately; the outdoor garden and indoor hydroponics garden will be completed by June and will be ready to use when the inaugural cohort enters the certificate program in Fall 2016.
For more information on STEM Workforce Challenge Grants at NSC and other Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) institutions, please click here.