Feb. 20, 2023 By Bill Parry
Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez introduced herself to some of her younger constituents in her newly redrawn district that now includes a large part of western Queens. Velázquez visited William Cullen Bryant High School in Astoria on Feb. 17 to announce the expansion of climate and sustainability education through new state-of-the-art hydroponic farms at 20 schools in Queens and Brooklyn.
“Greenhouse hydroponic farming is not only a financially wise investment, with excellent educational returns, but will also create a sound foundation in young students of self-sufficiency, respect for the environment and a desire for healthy living and nutrition,” Velázquez said. “I want to make sure that we have the resources to be able to empower our teachers to do what they do best, teaching you, and that you have the quality education that the wealthiest most powerful country in the world should provide. You deserve that.”
She secured $800,000 in federal programming to enhance STEM education at the 20 schools to provide students with the opportunity to learn more about local food production, healthy eating, climate, and sustainability.”
“We all know that the greatest threat that we face is an existential one and that is climate change,” Velázquez said. “And so we want to empower everyone with knowledge as to what it is that we can collectively do.”
She said the investment will deliver a hands-on urban farming program through hydroponic technology in partnership with NY Sun Works, a network of 230 schools with more than 100,000 students.
“We are honored to be part of this historic investment in Brooklyn and Queens to bring this expansion to fruition that will not only enrich the science curriculum in schools but empower and inspire students to pursue careers in STEM,” said Manuela Zamora, NY Sun Works Executive Director. “Congresswoman Velázquez is committed to bringing hands-on 21st-century urban farming education, climate, and food justice to the forefront to thousands of public school students. Our cutting-edge technology teaches responsible stewardship, the ability to grow their own food from seed to harvest and share fresh, nutritious produce with their community.”
The NY Sun Works network is extending over to CUNY for the first time including LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City.
“We are proud to expand opportunities for students to explore STEM fields through this partnership with NY Sun Works and with the generous support of Congress member Velázquez. Hydroponic farms offer a pathway towards a more sustainable food ethic that prioritizes the health of our food, bodies, and environment without the heavy use of chemicals.”
LaGuardia Community College President Kenneth Adams welcomed the students at Bryant to consider LaGuardia where the goal is to “create an educational pathway for all of you interested in plant science, agriculture, food, nutrition, and engineering,” and that hydroponics technology could lead to career paths, “because there are tremendous job opportunities emerging.”
Velázquez had one final thought to share with her newest constituents, that the investment would help develop a sound foundation in students for self-sufficiency, respect for the environment, and a desire for healthy living and nutrition.
“Let’s make science something that is fun to learn about,” she said.
Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane.