NIFA Announces $4.3 Million for Higher Education Support

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced 20 grants totaling $4.3 million to help higher education institutions teach the next generation of food and agricultural science professionals. The grants are funded through NIFA’s Higher Education Challenge (HEC) Grants Program.

“NIFA invests in the development of future agricultural professionals,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “NIFA helps advance education of our nation’s agricultural workforce at our public and private colleges and universities.”

The Higher Education Challenge Grants Program supports colleges and universities in their efforts to educate the next generation of the food and agricultural scientific and professional workforce. The program seeks to improve formal, baccalaureate or master’s degree level food, agricultural, natural resources, and human sciences (FANH) education and first professional degree-level education in veterinary medicine (DVM). HEC projects may improve the economic health and viability of communities through the development of degree programs that emphasize new and emerging employment opportunities. Projects may also address the national challenge to increase the number and diversity of students entering the FANH sciences.

FY 16 grants being announced and project details can be found at the NIFA website.

Among the grants, the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University project will create a Sustainability Scholars Program to build and increase the institutional capacity for recruiting and retaining underserved populations into food, agricultural, natural resources, and human (FANH) sciences programs. A University of Nebraska-Lincoln project will support the development, implementation, and evaluation of a 24-month sustained professional development program for postsecondary FANH sciences faculty.

Since FY 2009, NIFA has awarded more than $38 million through the Higher Education Challenge Grants Program. Previously funded projects include a Oklahoma State University project that will improve baccalaureate degree completion in the states of Oklahoma and Kansas by delivering an online degree in the food and agricultural sciences in partnership with three regional two-year colleges. A State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry project is developing a new graduate program that integrates indigenous and scientific knowledge on environmental sustainability. As a result, the program seeks to offer transformational approaches to mentoring, training, and supporting the next generation of Native American environmental professionals entering the FANH sciences workforce.