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Senator Hirono Announces $1.5 Million in Grants to University of Hawaii to Expand Education Programs Focused on Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources for Native Hawaiian Students

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) announced that the University of Hawaii will receive $1.5 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to expand education programs focused on food, agriculture, and natural resources. This funding is part of a competitive grant program for Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions to promote educational equity for underrepresented students, expand education programs, and provide job training in these fields. 

“The food insecurity too many families are facing during the coronavirus pandemic only further highlights the urgency of Hawaii’s efforts to promote food and agriculture sustainability,” Senator Hirono said. “This grant funding will support the University of Hawaii’s work to increase educational and job training opportunities for Native Hawaiian students in these critical fields. I will continue to advocate for robust funding to support Native Hawaiian-serving institutions as we continue our work to diversify our economy and increase our food security.”

More information about the individual projects receiving grants is included below:

HI!AG CONSORTIUM UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII: EXPANDING AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION IN FY2020 ($1,040,235): UH’s Hi!ag program provides education and training resources for underrepresented individuals and businesses to break the negative cycle of resource and employment insecurity. Grant funding will support individuals and businesses by ensuring equitable access to UH, state, and federal agribusiness resources, while addressing issues related to food security, climate change, social equity, land preservation, and a diversified economy. Separately, it will also support activities to improve science-based education, increase rural economic viability and job opportunities, and build a larger and better prepared workforce to serve Hawaii’s food, agriculture, and natural resource management industries.

MAUKA TO MAKAI: FROM THE MOUNTAIN TO THE SEA ($489,234): Grant funding will support a research methods and communications course, and internships with local industry and nonprofit organizations, to prepare students for science-based careers, particularly in food, agriculture, natural resources, and human sciences. Separately, it will also support a “Ridge-to-Reef” summer bridge program for high-school students that incorporates place-based learning through field work experiences. Finally, it will support data collection to inform future policies and engage stakeholders in ridge-to-reef management strategies.