UDC recognizes partners and student excellence with DAWN STEMS-Giving Celebration

UDC recognizes partners and student excellence with DAWN STEMS-Giving Celebration

UDC recognizes partners and student excellence with DAWN STEMS-Giving Celebration

Stemsgiving at UDC 2023
Environment Consultant Caroline Brewer, UDC Deputy Chief of Staff Patrick Gusman, Conservation Nation Education Director Diane Lill and Community-to-Career Partnership Director Xavier Brown.

The University of the District of Columbia and Anacostia High School hosted a DAWN STEMS-Giving event on December 14 to highlight the work of Anacostia High School students in the DAWN Program and pay tribute to DAWN community partners.

The mission of UDC’s Developing America’s Workforce Nucleus (DAWN) initiative is to create a sustainable pipeline of domestic, diverse, business-ready STEM and entrepreneurship-ready talent, at all levels of the workforce, to propel America’s economic engine into the future.

By working with economically disadvantaged Black and Brown students, DAWN seeks to solve the nation’s talent shortage by creating talent identification and refinement systems that will cultivate and increase STEM-based talent from underrepresented populations beginning with the Ward 8 community. Xavier Brown, the Community-to-Career Partnership (C-to-C Partnership) Director leads the efforts based out of Anacostia High School.

The College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability, and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) has been teaching Anacostia students soil-based and soilless farming techniques through collaboration with its Center for Urban Resilience, Innovation and Infrastructure (CURII) and its Center for Urban Agriculture and Gardening Education (CUAGE).

CUAGE Assistant Farm Manager Mike Whyte provided much-needed compost to Sousa Middle and Kramer Middle Schools for their outdoor gardens.

CURII Program Associate and Project-Based Learning Specialist Jacob Campbell leads the Agricultural Technology (Ag Tech) production systems in Anacostia High School and Kramer Middle School.

Campbell started a six-week train-the-trainer Agricultural Technology Certification Course with five middle school teachers from three middle schools in Wards 7 and 8. The course will increase the school-based capacity of trainers in Agricultural Technology, reaching more students and embedding sustainable agriculture education and practice in schools.

By providing Ag Tech and greenhouse training to middle and high school students using hydroponics systems to grow vegetables, the Center is addressing food justice challenges in the community and helping students develop entrepreneurship skills.

The DAWN STEMS-Giving event began with a tour of the hydroponics laboratory system at Anacostia High School where students are growing and harvesting micro-greens with entrepreneurial aspirations for the future.

Student authors from DAWN read from their book “Through My Anacostia Eyes” and talked about their creative process and their hopes for the future. The book was made available for purchase along with a commemorative magnet featuring the book cover.

UDC Deputy Chief of Staff Patrick Gusman hosted an awards ceremony, honoring community partners and sponsors.

A video was shown highlighting the UDC Scholars program also known as the Junior Firebirds, which is a planned one-of-a-kind partnership between UDC, Kramer Junior High School, John Philip Sousa Junior High School, and Anacostia High School.

Under the leadership of Jacob Campbell, UDC also trains teachers at Sousa Middle School, Kramer Middle School and Anacostia High School in cutting-edge climate change/sustainability curriculum, including providing hydroponics systems for use in their classroom instruction.

Through DAWN’s Individual Development Account, Anacostia graduates who enroll at UDC and earn their bachelor’s degree within five years are eligible for a $10,000 grant to help launch their lives following UDC graduation.

Four mini-hydroponics systems were raffled off that had been donated by Michael Choi, owner of PONIX, which is an on-site hydroponic vertical farming company.

“We’re always excited to have grown folks around our young people because that’s who we’re celebrating. This partnership with UDC has been great. We’ve been able to have many people come and see what our young people are doing. You would never think that a young urban school would be working with hydroponics the way they have. They have really flourished with their book, the fact that they’ve been able to meet and greet new people,” Anacostia High School Principal Kenneth Walker said.

“One thing I always say is we’re at the home of Frederick Douglass. He is someone who changed the fabric of America, and what we’re doing here today is we’re changing the fabric of our young people here at Anacostia,” he said.

Gusman acknowledged the contributions of the District Department of Energy and Environment, the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, and Pepco Holdings, whose financial investments made the program possible, as well as Conservation Nation and Nature Wise, which helped curate the environmental justice internship over the summer, culminating with the “Through Our Anacostia Eyes” publication. Other acknowledgments included the United States Department of Interior, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and Ponix, the manufacturer of the hydroponics systems and online curriculum.

For information on how you can volunteer with UDC CAUSES, click here. For more information about Anacostia Harvest Days, email Jacob.Campbell@udc.edu or call 202-763-5839.