Environmental sustainability, Alternative energy, Geo sciences and Future career

Bhavna Rawal, Science, Houston Community College System

The goal of this program is to educate students where they can learn about environmental sustainability, alternative energy, geosciences and future careers. We received USDA grant to sustain this program and collaborate with community college students, school students and university students to motivate and collaborate in these subjects.

The strengths of our program are collaborating and participating in meetings and roundtable discussions with university professors, community college instructors and teachers. Students also participate in field trips, work collaboratively and create projects together. School students participated in a geosciences and sustainability fair competition, helped by community college students and judged by panels of professors. Students of all levels got support from each other, encouragement and motivation. Many students had not seen a university campus; students visited a university campus. We invite university professors to our classrooms to talk about their current field work or research. One of the professors brought his biodiesel tractor to the school where all students can see and ask questions about it. We also participate in the Houston museum of natural science field trip. We selected students for summer internship where students can learn more specifically about geosciences and environmental sustainability.

The challenges of implementing and running this program are to make sure all events are done collaboratively and are coordinated. Sometimes it is very difficult to keep all institutions, their program and students activity on the same page. Before we take students for a field trip, we need to make them aware of the institutions activity calendar, exam dates, field trip guidelines and safety guidelines. For school students, we need to take parents' permission to take them out of campus.

This program motivates all level of students to pursue higher education careers specifically in geosciences, agricultural, alternative energy and sustainability programs. Each year, roughly half the students who participated pursued a career in geosciences.