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Pacesetter in Urban Education

Pacesetter in Urban Education

Food supply challenges are a real and imminent danger impacting our society, necessitating the development of a diverse generation of competitive scholars and leaders in the field. It is estimated that by 2050, we will need to be able to feed an additional 2 billion people, a challenge that requires a new, diverse generation of competitive agricultural scholars. We can’t do that today without hurting our planet, underscoring the urgent need for graduates proficient in sustainable practices.

Traditional farming practices produce a large carbon footprint, rely on rising oil prices, and require land no longer available due to deforestation, demonstrating the necessity for graduates skilled in sustainable farming technologies. These challenges are amplified by labor shortages. Today, the average age of a farmer is 66 years old, highlighting the critical need for engaging youth through vigorous high school mathematics programs and promoting agriculture as a viable career postsecondary education.

Develop America’s Workforce Nucleus (DAWN)

The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) is on a mission to develop domestically diverse, STEM and entrepreneurship-ready talent at all workforce levels to drive America’s economic growth. DAWN is working towards addressing the country’s workforce shortage by developing identification and training systems to boost STEM talent from underrepresented groups, aiming to build a diverse generation of competitive professionals.

Propel Grant

UDC received a $300k Propel Center AgTech Impact Grant to support the creation of an agrotechnology talent pipeline, aiming to graduate scholars and leaders equipped to face future agrarian challenges. The funding was used to develop training and mentorship programs, initiating with pilot schools in the Washington DC region as a pacesetter for professional development in STEM education.

UDC Partners with Ponix

UDC selected Ponix Farms as an agtech industry partner to further its mission as a land-grant institution, fostering advancements in agricultural technologies. Utilizing the funding from the Propel grant, UDC and Ponix Farms partnered to co-create a comprehensive agtech curriculum that could easily be deployed to middle schools, high schools, and colleges across the country. This curriculum included online lesson plans, guest speakers, a STEM garden, VR farm simulations, exams, and teacher training and support, reflecting a vigorous high school mathematics program.

Student Experience

UDC and Ponix joined forces with SpaceTime to set up 3D learning environments in the Metaverse that can be accessed by teachers and students from any device. The Metaverse classroom provides students with access to interactive experiences, chat rooms, and video presentations, revolutionizing postsecondary education with cutting-edge tools. Meanwhile, in the physical classroom, students engage in hands-on activities, including cultivating crops using hydroponic farming solutions.

Expanding Student Reach

UDC and Ponix acknowledge the potential to shape future generations through student growth. Expansion opportunities include not only middle schools, high schools, and colleges across the country, but their partnerships will enable them to provide well-qualified students with internship opportunities to gain hands-on experience in agtech.

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Pacesetter in Urban Education

Food supply challenges are a real and imminent danger impacting our society, necessitating the development of a diverse generation of competitive scholars and leaders in