A $1.5 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to a consortium of University of Hawaiʻi campuses will benefit UH West Oʻahu’s Sustainable Community Food Systems (SCFS) Program, with over half of the funding going toward enhancing student learning experiences and professional development, while providing program support for outreach and recruitment.
Dr. Albie Miles, head of the SCFS program, is receiving $102,000 of the USDA-NIFA Alaska Native-Serving and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions (ANNH) grant. The overall grant was obtained by Hi!ag, a consortium of University of Hawaiʻi campuses working to develop the state’s food and agricultural sciences workforce and support existing and new agribusiness. UH West Oʻahu is the newest partner in the consortium, joining UH’s community colleges and four-year schools in working to bring a united approach to agricultural education and agribusiness development.
“The larger proposal, and the UH West Oʻahu SCFS program in particular, respond to the needs of the community and enhance opportunities for workforce development in sustainable agriculture and natural resource management in the state of Hawaiʻi,” wrote UH West Oʻahu Chancellor Maenette Benham in supporting the grant proposal last year.
The Alaska Native-Serving and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions Education Competitive Grants Program sought proposals last year for awards of up to $1.5 million that addressed educational needs in the area of food and agricultural sciences-related disciplines. Priority was given to projects enhancing the educational equity for underrepresented students, strengthened educational capacities and prepared students for food, agricultural, and natural resources careers.
The money received by Miles will help continue building momentum for the SCFS program, which is one UH West Oʻahu’s signature programs. The SCFS program is the only one of its kind in the state and prepares students for jobs in sustainable food and agriculture as well as natural resource management, education, planning, food policy, and post-graduate degrees.
SCFS is an indigenous-serving program emphasizing the integration of traditional Hawaiian knowledge and natural resource management practices with the science of agroecology. In doing so, it aims to create more sustainable food and farming systems for Hawaiʻi, the Pacific Islands and beyond.
More than half of the money ($60,000) received by Miles will go toward sponsoring student internships, undergraduate research and student leadership experiences. Roughly $10,000 will support top-performing SCFS students wanting to engage in extracurricular learning and professional development through attending the 2019 Community Food Systems Conference, or related convening focused on agroecology and sustainable food systems.
Funds will also be used to acquire related tools and materials to support experiential learning in the half-acre acre UHWO Student Organic Garden, purchase library resources on agroecology, sustainable food systems, traditional ecological knowledge and public health, and to produce a new SCFS outreach and recruitment video.
The UH West O‘ahu Bachelor of Applied Science in Sustainable Community Food Systems was developed in partnership with MA‘O Organic Farms and Kamehameha Schools. As the only indigenous-serving four-year university in Leeward Oahu, the UH West Oʻahu SCFS program emphasizes community engagement, applied scholarship, and the integration of traditional ecological knowledge with the science of agroecology in creating more sustainable, just and culturally appropriate food and farming systems for Hawai‘i, the Pacific and beyond.