NIFA Announces Support for Secondary and Post-Secondary Educational Programs

Thursday, February 1, 2018
Media Contact: Selina Meiners, 202-734-9376

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1, 2018 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced support for secondary educational programming in food, agriculture, natural resources and human sciences (FANH). Funding is made available through the Secondary Education, Two-Year Postsecondary Education, and Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom Challenge Grants Program (SPECA). 

The purpose of the SPECA program is to increase the number and diversity of students who pursue and complete a two- or four- year postsecondary degree in the food and agricultural sciences, as well as to enhance the quality of secondary and two-year postsecondary instruction to meet future national food and agricultural science workplace needs.
“Ensuring a robust educational system is critical in meeting the pressing demands of our scientific workforce,” said NIFA Director, Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy. “It is important to invest in programs that educate and retain students who can benefit from learning science in the classroom.”
Eligible applicants include public secondary schools, public or private nonprofit junior and community colleges, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit organizations. Additionally, projects should support curriculum development, expansion of student career opportunities, faculty preparation and enhancement for teaching, and facilitating interaction with other academic institutions.
There is $800,000 in available funding to support SPECA. The application deadline is Mar. 8, 2018. See the funding opportunity for additional information.
Previously funded projects include the collaborative efforts of Ohio State University’s Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI) and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). The central goal was to spark interest in Ohio's growing bioenergy and wastewater industries. The cohort established an experiential learning program for local high school students. Over 350 students received hands-on training in thermal conversion, water quality assessment, and principles of wastewater treatment. In addition, sustainable partnerships were created with four local wastewater and renewable energy facilities to support internship placement. The University of Tennessee Extension program developed a new teaching curriculum on controlled environment food production to increase high school student proficiency and enrollment in agriculture and food production. The curriculum included six modules and 15 lessons that cover the biology and chemistry aspects of growing vegetables in soilless systems in a controlled environment.
NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and extension to solve societal challenges. NIFA’s investments in transformative science directly support the long-term prosperity and global preeminence of U.S. agriculture. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural science, visit, sign up for email updates or follow us on Twitter @usda_NIFA, #NIFAimpacts.
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