2016 CONNECT2STEM Innovation Award for Business Given to CAC Project Puente Summer Internship Program and USDA/ARS Arid Land Agricultural Research Center

Dr. Stephen Naranjo, Director of the USDA/ARS Arid Land Agricultural Research Center (ALARC) and the Central Arizona College (CAC) Project Puente Summer Internship Program were recently awarded the 2016 CONNECT2STEM Innovation Award for Business.

CAC, with grant funding support from the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), developed Project Puente to increase America’s agricultural workforce by connecting more Hispanics and other college and high school students to STEM careers.

This summer, 38 Project Puente students will engage in an eight week summer internship where they will work side by side with research scientists from government, university and private industry. Students will learn first-hand how teams of scientists solve real-world ecological and agricultural problems (i.e. biochemical monitoring of irrigation water, integrated pest management, biofuels development, cultivation of native plants for rubber production, monitoring a monarch butterfly way station at the Rio Salado). They will also gain a broad perspective of agriculture career opportunities, impacts and challenges.

ALARC is sponsoring 19 of the Project Puente interns; the University of Arizona Maricopa County Cooperative Extension (MCCE) and Maricopa Agricultural Center (MAC) will sponsor 12; and seven are sponsored by Bridgestone Americas, Pan Aridus, Phoenix Parks and Recreation, and Arizona Game and Fish.

In addition to providing experiential learning opportunities for high school and college students, Project Puente provides free STEM workshops for K-12 teachers at MAC.  Dr. Channah Rock, UA MAC Associate Professor and water quality specialist led workshops in biotechnology and water analysis for 20 STEM teachers and staff this year. Additionally, Project Puente sponsored Science Nights at Pinal County middle and high schools that featured Dr. Rock and Dr. Pedro Andrade, UA MAC Associate Professor and Engineering Specialist as guest speakers.

For more information about the Cox Connect 2 STEM education award winners visit: https://www.facebook.com/Connect2STEM/videos.


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