The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded Minnesota State University, Mankato, along with three non-profits, a $224,744 grant to create leadership opportunities for agricultural students, encourage hands-on learning, and promote collaboration between the college and the greater community.
The three non-profits that will be partnering with MSU Mankato on administering the grant are the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches’, Minnesota Venture Farms, MY Place Mankato and Model Citizen Farm in Paynesville, Minnesota.
The grant will benefit MSU students by creating real-world leadership opportunities and direct experience in agriculture.
“We’re putting students in the driver seat and they are utilizing the coursework they are doing and what they’re doing is actually applying it and practicing it in real time,” said Christine Mollenkopf-Pigsley, who is one of the principal investigators for the grant along with Shane Bowyer, the director of AgriBusiness & Food Innovation Program.
The grant will allow the organizations involved to provide tours of farms, gardening programs over the summer, and career education to both K-12 and college students considering a career in agriculture.
MY Place and Minnesota Venture Farms will provide at risk-youth the ability to participate in a summer gardening program where they will have the opportunity to grow and consume agricultural produce themselves. Model Citizen Farm will give farm tours to K-12 students to help educate them on sustainable and innovative agricultural practices.
Each year, MSU Mankato will host an Ag in Action event that will bring K-12 students from the Greater Mankato Area and Minneapolis to Mankato for the purpose of allowing MSU to collaborate with the community. According to the Mankato Free Press, the event will feature educational stations put together by MSU students in the agriculture and leadership class that will provide information on agriculture and health and nutrition. This year, the Ag in Action event will be held on April 27 in Sibley Park.
One goal of the grant is to promote collaboration between MSU Mankato and the Greater Mankato Community.
“It’s a cool way for MSU Mankato to also be involved in the community. I personally think it is very important that the college is fully engaged in the community,” said Mollenkopf-Pigsley.
The grant is two years in length, but Mollenkopf-Pigsley expressed the hope that the program would continue longer than that.
“Our goal is to integrate this kind of student-led projects and service-learning into our ongoing efforts,” said Mollenkopf-Pigsley.
Header Photo: Shane Bowyer is the director of the AgriBusiness & Food Innovation Program. (Stock Photo)
Write to Jeremy Redlien at Jeremy.Redlien@mnu.edu