Redlands Awarded Nearly $1.5 Million to Expand Agriculture Technology Courses

Students work in the aquaponics labRedlands Community College has been awarded a five-year grant totaling nearly $1.5 million dollars by the U.S. Department of Education that will allow it to significantly expand instructional offerings for Native American students and others interested in agriculture technology-related careers.

As a result, in the Fall of 2022, Redlands will be adding new courses focusing on agriculture technology, including coding, drone operation, robotics and applied automation.

“Agriculture technology is continuing to be an emerging field, and this grant expands on our foundation in ag technology with our aquaponics systems and continuous flow-through worm farms,” said Dr. Julie Flegal-Smallwood, director of the NASNTI-STEM grant. “While farming continues to be a traditional relationship with the ground, technology has become more prevalent. From growing crops with more precise data and raising animals while conserving resources to operating farm equipment using GPS and establishing irrigation based on sensors, technology has become vital to the success of agriculture.”

President Jack Bryant added, “Redlands is a leader in agriculture education, attracting student from across the country, and the NASNTI-STEM grant will open new doors for our students. Because of this program, we will be able to help our students position themselves for careers providing technology and analytic service for farmers, developing programs to improve or operate agriculture equipment or managing robotic farming components.”

The current NASNTI-STEM grant focuses on blending sciences, including biology, chemistry and microbiology, into agricultural applications such as aquaponics and vermiculture. It also included the creation of a STEM-specific tutoring center.

“The tutoring center will continue to operate as part of the new grant as it is critical to success in technology applications,” said Flegal-Smallwood. “We have also enjoyed partnering with Native American groups across the state, and we look forward to expanding these partnerships through these ag technology-related courses.”

The grant is part of the Department of Education’s Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institution (NASNTI) program, and is a capacity building grant designed for Native American and first-generation, disabled, or lower-income students.