Abstracts

Water and Environmental Science Programs for Underrepresented Communities in Mississippi

Author(s): Diaz, J.

The goal of this presentation is show current water and environmental science programs developed at Alcorn State University. Alcorn State University - ASU, a Land Grant and Historically Black University located in southwest Mississippi, offers a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Sciences with emphasis in Environmental Science. This program prepares highly skilled individuals for lifelong environmental career in private and public organizations. Students are trained to understand, investigate, and manage the environment and the many interactions among physical, chemical, biological, economical, and societal components towards a sustainable society. The program consists of 21% social science courses, 24% basic science classes, and 55% applied science subjects. Applied environmental classes include: water quality, concepts of environmental science, geographical information systems applications in natural resources, watershed hydrology, agricultural and environmental law. ASU’s Mississippi River Research Center – MRRC is actively involved in mentoring and outreach activities which support the MRRC’s mission in reaching out to students and general community as well as training the next generation of minority professionals in science and applied technology areas. Since January 2013, staff and students from the MRRC have prepared and performed eight outreach activities reaching about 200 school students. Through a National Science Foundation grant, the MRRC developed an environmental science activity manual and trained 16 middle-school teachers by providing content and hands on activities in three major themes: water, erosion, and environmental consciousness. Major accomplishments in student involvement include mentoring eight students; hosting two undergraduate students from Oberlin College, OH and University of Florida, FL through the NOAA-NGI Diversity Internship Summer Program; attending six professional meetings; and reaching third place in graduate poster competition in the 71st professional Agricultural Workers in Tuskegee University, Alabama. Currently, the MRRC is leading five projects funded by the State of Mississippi, US Department of Agriculture, US Forest Service, and Monsanto. Projects are focused on evaluating the temporal and spatial water quality variation and the indication of total coliform bacteria and Escherichia coli in four small lakes at ASU; assessing climate change impacts on southern Mississippi watersheds; measuring the acid neutralizing capacity of forest and aquatic ecosystems in Louisiana and Mississippi national forests; understanding factors influencing the adoption, efficiency, and impact of irrigation systems and scheduling methods for irrigation on small and limited resource vegetable and fruit farms in Mississippi; and promoting water quality management techniques for vegetable production. Summary of major project accomplishments will be presented at the conference.
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