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LaGuardia Community College lands $4.5 million grant to cultivate next-gen food, agro professionals

LaGuardia Community College is the recipient of a $4.5 million grant to prepare future professionals in the field of food and agriculture. (Photo courtesy of LaGuardia Community College)

July 5, 2023 By Bill Parry

The campus of LaGuardia Community College is located in Long Island City, where the only farmland in the vicinity is nearly 15 miles away on the other side of the borough at the Queens County Farm Museum in Little Neck, yet it is still receiving support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

LaGuardia Community College was awarded a $4.5 million dollar multi-year grant from the USDA’s National Food and Agriculture (NIFA) for the development of “The Animal Science Discovery Program,” a summer experiential learning, career development and scholarship program between LaGuardia and Rutgers University. The new program to prepare future professionals in the field of food and agriculture is under the leadership of Dr. Preethi Radhakrishnan, the director of the Environmental Science program at LaGuardia.

“This is such wonderful news for LaGuardia,” LGACC President Kenneth Adams said. “It is a tremendous achievement by Dr. Radhakrishnan, the result of her hard work, and her heartfelt commitment to the program and our students.”

The award is part of a $262.5 million investment in institutions of higher learning to foster the next generation of diverse agricultural professionals across the nation which is funded under President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which aims to lower costs for American families, expand access to markets to producers from all backgrounds and communities, build a clean energy economy and strengthen American supply chains.

LaGuardia Community College is the only New York state recipient made eligible for the multi-year grant because it is a Hispanic-Serving Institution. Other eligible institutions across the country include 1890 Land-grant Universities, 1994 Tribal Colleges and Universities, Alaska Native-serving and Native Hawaiian-serving institutions.

“With the launch of our new Animal Science track in Fall 2023, we have opened the doors of access for our urban students to high-paying careers in veterinary medicine, companion animal science, wildlife science, equine science, laboratory animal science, animal-assisted therapy, animal genetics and breeding, pet adoption counseling as well as the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), part of the United States Department of Agriculture,” Dr. Radhakrishnan said. “ Many of these careers come with internships at the USDA and other entry points into federal jobs with wonderful benefits. I am excited to see what the future holds for these young professionals.”

LaGuardia plans to give 45% of its funding directly to support students through paid summer residencies, peer mentorship, career development opportunities, and a fully funded scholarship program between LAGCC and Rutgers, which would serve as pipeline for inner-city high school students in NYC to careers in food, agriculture, natural resources and human sciences that are currently unavailable to them near their homes. Through the program, LaGuardia will have a USDA liaison on-campus to assist in guiding students through the pipeline.

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