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Applicants Sought for Summer Acadamies

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BURLINGTON – Middle and high school students with an interest in agrotechnology are encouraged to apply for a week-long residential academy this summer through the AgroTek Innovation program.

Current Grade 7-11 students may apply for one of three academies: Culturing Cells for Healthier Soils, Shifting the Waste to Value Paradigm or Using Virtual Reality for More Precise Agriculture. The academies will run concurrently on the University of Vermont (UVM) campus from June 25-30.

Accommodations and meals will be in the UVM residential halls. There is no cost to attend although each program is limited to 12 students.

Participants will head back to campus on July 28 for the Agrotek Innovation Slam. This pitch-style competition will provide an opportunity to share projects that demonstrate what they learned through their academy.

Youths enrolled in the Culturing Cells for Healthier Soils Academy will explore root systems and associated microbes of the “three sisters” (beans, squash and corn), the foundation of indigenous agriculture. They also will learn about microbial diversity and abundance, new sustainable cropping systems and cutting-edge tools for measuring root systems.

Shifting the Waste to Value Paradigm Academy students will study ways to turn agricultural waste into sustainable products and sources of income for local farmers. They will use critical thinking to develop and practice skills to respond to community needs as well as design innovative approaches for waste-to-value bioproducts.

The Using Virtual Reality for More Precise Agriculture Academy will engage students in computer lab research and on-farm learning to apply tools, such as augmented reality and artificial intelligence, to help farmers make informed decisions regarding farm management practices and address agricultural challenges due to climate change.

Throughout the week, participants will work with UVM researchers and undergraduate mentors who will share information and assist them with research in laboratories and the field. They also will take part in field trips to off-campus businesses, such as the UVM Horticulture Research and Education Center, Full Circle Microbes and GameTheory; attend presentations and enjoy movies and guided tours of the UVM campus and Burlington.

The UVM College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and UVM Extension 4-H launched the AgroTek Innovation program in 2022 to help middle and high school youths build agriscience and biotechnology skills. Funding is provided by a National Institute of Food and Agriculture Food and Agricultural Non-formal Education grant.

Details and a link to the application can be found at go.uvm.edu/agrotek. Students who attended last year are eligible to apply for a different academy.

The application deadline is April 7 with notification by the end of April. If accepted and requiring language interpretation, translation assistance and/or a disability-related accommodation to participate, contact Liz Kenton at [email protected] or (802) 656-7535 by April 25.

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