MONTCLAIR STATE COLL
347 RICHARDSON HALL 1 NORMAL AVENUE
UPPER MONTCLAIR,NJ 07043
Non Technical Summary
The global quantity of food required by human populations is expected to double by 2050, which leads to an urgent demand to optimize agricultural production to meet this rising need. Technology will play a significant role in achieving efficient agricultural practices with increased food production. Yet while technical careers in agriculture are expected to increase in the coming decade, traditional farm and ranch labor will decrease by the same amount. To make technology available to all and provide job equity, we plan to train a new generation of agriculture professionals that must include tech-savvy experts in data science and automation. Furthermore, to achieve efficient production, it is becoming increasingly important to adopt sustainable practices across all economic sectors. Advances in computer sciences, automation or mechanization, and remote sensing can help to optimize production advance towards increased sustainability. The sustainability-minded agriculturalists of the future will need experience with sustainable agriculture intensification, advancements in data science and data collection, and automation processes to respond to industry needs.The Green Ag Teams project will train participants to enter the agricultural industry and prepare them to be competitive for advanced agricultural science and related technology degrees. The project will: 1) recruit participants to join a paid experiential learning opportunity; 2) connect participants directly with agricultural organizations to experience different modes of agriculture and meet industry-prescribed needs; and 3) develop college-career pipelines via training in sustainability and data sciences tailored to the needs of the agricultural industry. This project will develop an urban-rural (New Jersey-Kansas) exchange program. By studying the relationship between both settings, students can recommend sustainable and ethical ways to affirm environmental awareness for the future of technology in the farming industry. Participants will learn the procedures for conducting agriculture on-site with agricultural industry partners. They will work to address industry- and site-specific sustainability needs that originate from the industry partners. Participants will receive training in data collection and data analysis for process-optimization. The project will recruit participants each year from from diverse backgrounds.The project will directly impact 50 students with agriculture-specific experiential, project-oriented training opportunities, and will indirectly impact 1,500 additional students involved in concurrent training and partner programs, providing increased exposure to potential agricultural careers and the need for sustainability and data science professionals within the industry. Outcomes will include greater awareness and preparedness for technology degrees related to agriculture and incorporation of technology skills in agriculture degree recipients. Agriculturalists will be exposed to and provided with solutions to implement for their processes to become more sustainable. Resource use will decrease as production increases through these technologically advanced applications by a diverse and well-trained workforce.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories
Goals / Objectives
GoalsThe overarching goal of this project is to train well-rounded agriculturalists with expertise in sustainable agricultural practices applicable to different crops and environments. Specifically, the project aims to : 1) contribute toward developing a diverse, sustainability-oriented and technically-capable agriculture workforce coming from urban and rural audiences, who will be capable of leveraging new advancements in technology to grow the data and technology-driven agriculture enterprises, and 2) begin cross-training and developing exchange learning opportunities, covering the different modalities of agriculture, and leveraging a wide variety of the emergent technologies available to address sustainability within the agriculture industry.ObjectivesThe specific objectives related to the implementation of this program that will offer hands-on, project-based learning activities for 50 REEU participants, and offer additional exposure and training opportunities for 1,500 additional students throughout the five-year project period are listed below. To do accomplish these objectives, the project will engage two agricultural industry partners each year,The proposed project will meet the following objectives to train diverse REEU participants to enter the agricultural industry, or pursue further education, over the course of its five-year term:1. Offer REEU participants a new paid training opportunity to participate in regional agriculture projects, to facilitate entry into the agriculture sector and reduce potential barriers to participation for students from underrepresented groups (URGs);2. Connect REEU participants with prominent, rural agricultural organizations in Kansas and urban agricultural partners in New Jersey, to experience different modes of agriculture, and to foster a novel college-career pathway for participants;3. Foster the development of interdisciplinary networks of REEU participants during experiential learning opportunities, to create well-rounded professionals with leadership and cooperative team experiences, ready to enter the agricultural workforce;4. Introduce REEU participants to emerging data collection, analytic, and processing methods to identify and solve sustainability-related issues in the agriculture industry; and5. Engage REEU participants in hands-on projects incorporating novel and sustainable technologies, potentially covering, but not limited to: machine learning or artificial intelligence, web design and data dashboards, robotics and process automation, digital and analog sensor integration, sustainable or renewable energy source integration, cost benefit analysis and circular economic processes, and geographic information systems.Additionally, the proposed project will accomplish the following objectives to improve the sustainability of the agricultural industry, over the course of its five-year term:1. Work with regional agricultural partners in Kansas and New Jersey to draw parallels between urban and rural agricultural practices, in order to facilitate cross-training between the two sectors, and share innovative and sustainable practices;2. Work with agriculturalists to increase the sustainability and intensification of agricultural practices, with a focus on vertical farming intensification in urban New Jersey centers;3. Work with agriculturalists to integrate existing sensor technologies into their agricultural practices, in order to begin to reliably measure environmental conditions and agricultural input use, for conventional agricultural intensification; and4. Work with agriculturalists in urban and rural settings to capture data, analyze productive processes and economic factors, and aid in developing new production models that facilitate sustainable production.
Efforts:This project will develop a new collaborative exchange between Montclair State University (MSU) and Kansas State University (KSU), that will initiate a joint training program as an agriculture-focused expansion of MSU's successful transdisciplinary Green Teams Program to include Green Ag Teams. During this experiential summer internship program, multiple teams of 5 students each from different academic backgrounds, are paired with industry partners, who provide project-oriented hands-on learning opportunities solving real-world sustainability problems. REEU participants in the Green AG Teams program will engage in hands-on training based on curriculum developed for the larger Green Teams program and additional curriculum added to the larger program specifically for sustainable agriculture, covering a number of sustainability and agricultural topics, so that all Green Teams participants will learn about sustainable agriculture practices. Students will gain professional development skills, science communication skills, and leadership training and support. During Weeks 1-2 of the 10-week program, participants from all backgrounds will receive training in foundational topics including introductions to experimental design, methods to collect primary and secondary data, and the fundamentals of data analysis, as well as professional development. REEU participants will address tangible sustainable agricultural needs of their host organization (i.e., urban and rural agricultural sites) through projects conducted and experiences gained at sites across both states will provide agricultural cross-training and exposure to how sustainability needs differ across the country. From MSU, participants will then visit agricultural sites in New Jersey and Kansas, complete projects at either site, in alternating years, followed by presentations at MSU.On site, students will conduct research, develop sustainability- oriented projects, complete analyses, install equipment, and interact with representatives from partner organizations. Participants will routinely meet with agriculturalists and industry subject matter specialists, conduct research and implement new data collection and analysis strategies with their host sites, and synthesize data from their activities into actionable next steps. Students are encouraged to think creatively to problem-solve; they develop projects together, write a comprehensive report, and present the findings to hosting organizations in group TED-style presentations (virtually or in person) at the Final Presentations event.Evaluation:Inform Evaluation & Research will lead evaluation activities. The evaluation will concentrate on two areas during the project period: 1) monitoring of the program activities and outputs, and 2) outcomes for student participants specified in the program Logic Model.Inform will work with MSU and KSU key project personnel and industry partners to track activities and outputs recommended by the USDA, including: a) # and locations of experiential learning activities offered; b) types of experiential learning opportunities; c) # of participants; d) # and citations of publications; e) # of products; and f) # of presentations. We will track demographics of applicants and participants. We will monitor the diversity of academic disciplines, and the number of students reached by agricultural partner organizations. These data will be used to address the USDA REEU Program Goals specified in the RFA. The evaluation will investigate student outcomes specified in the program Logic Model: 1) All REEU participants improve their understanding of and gain exposure to the varied regional agricultural industries; 2) REEU participants develop leadership and problem-solving skills; and 3) More REEU participants are prepared for technological careers in advanced and sustainable agriculture.We will use two methods (retrospective pre-post survey and focus groups) to evaluate these outcomes. We will investigate career preparation through items based on four categories of professional skills: ethics, teamwork, global awareness, and creative problem solving. The retrospective pre-post survey design will minimize response shift bias. Focus groups will be conducted with students at the end of each summer to investigate their leadership skill development and preparation for agricultural industry careers.