To overcome historic barriers related to low retention and graduation rates of Hispanic students in Agriculture and STEM fields, the EverGreen project, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 2016 through 2020, aims to increase the number of Hispanic students with advanced technical degrees at the food-water-energy intersection. To do so, this grant enables students to engage in cross-disciplinary research activities related to the development of a shipping container farm, which serves as a laboratory to investigate food-water-energy principles, and where they engage in hands-on science, technology, and problem solving. Throughout this project, agriculture students have been involved in a number of activities including soilless vegetable and fruit cultivation methods, using beneficial organisms, integrated pest management in controlled environments, the development and use of compost teas in soilless systems, and the feasibility of shipping container farms. Engineering students involved in this project have been investigating air-to-water generation, automation technology, hydroponic system design, solar energy, increasing efficiency in shipping container farms, and many more topics.
This project is a collaborative effort between Texas State University, Palo Alto College, and San Antonio College. Students have been and continue to be recruited from Palo Alto College and San Antonio College to seamlessly transition into and complete degrees at Texas State University. Students that are part of EverGreen receive personalized support through mentorships, tutoring, and professional development, as well as financial assistance through scholarships and paid internships. Over fifty students have been supported by this grant since 2016. And, through this project, several students have won awards and fellowships, and have found employment upon graduation in the areas of urban farming, and soilless and field-based crop production.