STEAM-AGED aims to increase underrepresented students pursuing agriculture degrees, careers

Inside TXST

Jayme Blaschke | November 8, 2021

woman spraying basil in green house

The Department of Agricultural Sciences at Texas State has received a $275,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Hispanic Serving Institution Education Grants Program to attract and support underrepresented students to prepare them for food, agriculture, natural resources and human sciences careers.

The four-year grant will support the "Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture and Mathematics: integrating scientific inquiry in curriculum for pre-service Agricultural Education teachers," (STEAM-AGED) program, overseen by principal investigator Merritt Drewery, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Sciences, along with co-PI Ryan Anderson, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Sciences.

two people studying strawberries

STEAM-AGED is intended to address underrepresented populations in post-secondary degree recipients as well as a deficit in the number of science and engineering post-secondary graduates to fill agricultural positions nationally. STEAM-AGED will involve faculty, graduate, undergraduate and secondary students from underrepresented populations in a formalized mentoring and teaching structure that emphasizes scientific inquiry and experiential learning.

Through mentorship and financial incentives, STEAM-AGED will attract and support underrepresented students to prepare them for academic or professional STEAM careers with the USDA or similar employers. By targeting students at different educational levels, STEAM-AGED hopes to effectively create a pipeline of talent, ensuring impact is felt in the workforce within a year of initiation, throughout the life of the program and for years after program culmination.

Ultimately, STEAM-AGED is expected to provide experiential learning opportunities across the academic continuum, provide mentoring for underrepresented students across the academic continuum, enhance student recruitment and retention for the Texas State Department of Agricultural Sciences and eventually be published as an educational model. 

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922