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USDA Awards AAMU, Alabama Cooperative Extension $950,000 in Grants

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Alabama A&M University (AAMU), including the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, has been awarded almost $950,000 in grants. (AAMU)

Alabama A&M University

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Alabama A&M University (AAMU), including the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, has been awarded almost $950,000 in grants. The awards are part of the USDA’s $30.8 million investment in research and extension at America’s 1890 historically Black Land-grant universities. The investment, made through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) 1890 Teaching, Research and Extension Capacity Building Grants Program, supports research to address the nation’s toughest agricultural challenges.

Heirs’ Property

Danielle Rudolph, Site Director for the Virginia Caples Lifelong Learning Institute with Alabama Extension, received a $350,000 award for her project, “Saving the Family Property: Heirs’ Property Prevention, Resolution, and Land Use.” Heirs property is real property passed from generation to generation without clear title.

“This grant will provide innovative customized legal services to resolve heirs’ property cases and helps reduce intergenerational family disputes,” says Rudolph. “The project will partner with local leaders, legal professionals, families, and collaborators to provide community education focusing on estate planning, heirs’ property education, resolving family conflicts, mediation, conducting genealogical searches, title searches, and land use strategies for income generation.”

Rudolph says programming will occur around the state with initial concentration in Alabama’s Black Belt region and counties with a higher prevalence of heirs’ property. The two-year project will also train Alabama A&M University’s undergraduate and graduate students to perform research that will help underserved and minority families conduct necessary genealogical and title searches and provide options for families to develop income streams that have the potential for increasing generational wealth.

This initiative will collaborate with Faulkner University’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law, which provides pro bono legal assistance via estate planning, ancestral property, and mediation clinics.

Dr. Kimberly Sinclair-Holmes, Extension Assistant Director at Alabama A&M University, and John Craft, Director of Clinical and Field Placement Programs and Clinical Professor at Faulkner University – Jones School of Law, are co-principal investigators.

Health

Dr. Tamara C. Warren, Health and Nutrition Extension Specialist with Urban Extension at AAMU was awarded the $250,000 grant for her project, “Cardiovascular Health, Aerobic, Management and Prevention Initiative Optimizing Nutrition.” The program is designed to build and strengthen programming efforts focused on cardiovascular health, nutrition, physical activities, digital technology, and using tower gardens.

“The grant will provide students the opportunity to assist with implementation of a Community Nutrition program and become certified in nutrition, physical activity and technology areas, improving individuals’ cardiovascular health,” says Warren. “It will expand the university’s outreach efforts of Community Nutrition to combat chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease.”

Warren, Horticulture Specialist Dr. Rudy Pacumbaba and Technology Specialist Lamar Pryor are co-principal investigators.

Climate Change

Environmental Specialist Dr. Karnita Golson-Garner received a grant for $249,000 to implement “Minimizing Climatic Impacts through the Environmental Education and Climate Outreach Initiative.” Alabama Extension audiences will learn eco-friendly and climate-smart practices to effectively reduce climate change.

“This project will foster a greater understanding of environmental and climate-related issues, allowing for enhanced action and solution-based problem-solving,” says Golson-Garner. “The grant will also offer training and experiential learning opportunities for AAMU students that enhance Extension’s multicultural capacity and lead to a more diverse and inclusive agricultural workforce.”

Golson-Garner is the principal investigator. Co-investigators are Extension Assistant Director Roosevelt Robinson, AAMU Environmental Chemistry Professor Paul Okweye, AAMU Assistant Professor of Water Resources and Environmental Engineering Dr. Pooja Preetha and Urban Regional Extension Agent Allyson Shabel.

Graduate Program

Dr. Yong Wang, Professor in the AAMU Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, was awarded 99,976.00 for his project “Enhancing Graduate Biostatistical Program at Alabama A&M University.”

“This is a professional development grant which is intended to provide an opportunity for individual faculty members to enhance the quality of their teaching and education,” says Wang. “The goal of this project is to strengthen the graduate biostatistical program and develop the foundation for the future data science related program at AAMU by improving the effectiveness of biostatistical courses.”

Wang says many students are reluctant to take biostatistical related courses because of perceived difficulty, but it is a growing profession where students can find great career success.

“Biostatistics is vital to apply statistical theory to food and agricultural applications, with a vibrant market for trained professionals,” says Wang. “We are in the midst of a data revolution, massive data generated daily in agricultural fields need to be mined for knowledge. It is predicted the employment of statisticians/data scientists will increase by 30% between 2018-2028, faster than the average for all occupations.”