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New Garden and Entomology Lab Coming to Campus

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Release Date: Jul 10, 2018

Alabama State University has received a grant to establish a campuswide garden and entomology lab.

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Alabama State University is making plans to install a teaching garden and entomology lab on campus this fall to introduce students to the plant sciences and sustainable agricultural practices.

Thanks in part to funding by the the Mid-South Resource Conservation & Development Council, Inc, the University will establish a campuswide community garden that will be used for teaching, research and demonstrations.

The grant was awarded to Dr. Michelle Samuel-Foo, an entomologist in ASU’s Department of Biological Sciences. Foo was hired this past January as an Assistant Professor of biology.

“I am excited about the possibilities that this teaching garden will bring to ASU’s campus,” Foo said. “It is a new direction for the University as it has not traditionally participated in agricultural education, but with a growing focus on sustainable agriculture worldwide and the need for all communities to be knowledgeable when they make food choices, this will be a rich addition to the overall education of ASU’s student body.”

As the population of the United States increasingly becomes more diversified, the need for agricultural education at minority serving institutions is becoming readily apparent. Historically, minorities have participated less than other populations in agricultural careers, other than as laborers. Perhaps a contributing factor here is the fact that minority students have preconceived perceptions about what agricultural education is about. An informal survey of graduate students in the Biological Sciences department at ASU indicated a growing interest from students to learn about agriculture and where food comes from. A teaching garden on campus will not only serve to complement classes to both undergraduate and graduate students, but could also serve as an important space for classes on seed starting and gardening as well as plant-insect interactions that could benefit the entire campus community.

Foo also has applied for funding to help bring this project to fruition through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crops program. The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) receives grant funding from USDA to enhance the competitiveness of Alabama’s specialty crops. Foo received notification earlier this summer that her grant application was selected as a 2018 Alabama Specialty Crop Block Grant.

“This is truly as exciting time for ASU’s campus. Students will have the opportunity to volunteer as the endeavour gets underway this fall,” Foo said.

Students interested in being a part of this project should contact Dr. Foo at mfoo@alasu.edu.
 

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