HOLYOKE – The National Science Foundation has awarded an $810,000 grant to Holyoke Community College, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Hampshire College to create collaborative programs combining clean energy studies with sustainable agriculture and to share new resources that will benefit students.
“The main purpose of the grant is to marry what has for the most part historically been two separate sides of sustainability education – clean energy and agriculture,” said Kate Maiolatesi, coordinator of HCC’s Sustainability Studies program, who wrote the grant.
A large piece of the grant will pay for the development of cross-campus courses that combine the strengths of existing programs at each of the three schools: clean energy at HCC and sustainable agriculture at Hampshire and UMass.
The first of these joint courses is expected to begin next summer, Maiolatesi said.
“Students from all three campuses will come here to HCC to learn about clean energy and then our students and their students will go to UMass and Hampshire for the agriculture piece,” she said.
The joint programs are expected to create stronger pathways for transfer to Hampshire and UMass for HCC students who want to continue their studies in clean energy and sustainable agriculture.
HCC offers associate degree programs in Sustainability Studies, Sustainable Agriculture and Clean Energy, as well as certificate programs in Sustainability Studies, Clean Energy, Solar Energy, Wind Energy and Geothermal Energy.
Another large portion of the grant will pay for new clean energy/agriculture equipment that will be used by students from all three schools. The equipment includes a micro-farm greenhouse demonstration and training facililty at UMass and a movable greenhouse and mobile refrigeration unit at Hampshire. Both will be solar powered.
Students will build the greenhouses and also convert an old diesel tractor into one powered by solar energy.
HCC will get a solar powered electric fence, composting and irrigation equipment for its sustainability and permaculture gardens and a small wind turbine.
Money from the grant will also be used to pay stipends to students who want to do summer internships with clean energy businesses or local farms.