Bumpers College Hosts Arkansas Lighthouse Academies Students for AGRI-STEM Experience

Micayla Blair

Last year’s one-day field trip with Bumpers College for Arkansas Lighthouse Academies and 70 students in grades 8-12 has been upgraded to a three-day agri-STEM Summer Enrichment Academy for 25 seventh- and eighth-graders.

U of A’s Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences is hosting students from Arkansas Lighthouse Academies for the second summer in a row, but this year’s experience will be different.

Last summer, the college hosted 70-plus ALA students, teachers and administrators for an introduction to the college, its majors and career paths.

The eighth-through-12th graders had lunch, met Dean Deacue Fields, saw demonstrations, participated in activities, took tours through facilities and interacted with faculty and staff members from most departments throughout the college, all in one day.

This year, a more select group of students is spending three days in Fayetteville, starting Tuesday, June 7, as part of the Arkansas Lighthouse Summer Enrichment Academy.

“Bumpers College has developed strategic recruitment goals, many which focus on intentional recruitment with younger audiences,” said Katie Dilley, the college’s coordinator of undergraduate student recruitment. “We want to build more of these learning opportunities for PK-12 audiences to teach students about everything that happens within Bumpers College and the careers available to them in agricultural, food and life sciences. This is just the first of additional summer and day camps “

ALA and Bumpers College, along with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, are working together on this Agri-STEM summer institute. The fully-sponsored initiative gives 25 seventh- and eighth-graders from Pine Bluff and Jacksonville hands-on learning experiences, exposure to technical and scientific operations and procedures related to agriculture, the School of Human Environmental Sciences, social networking, an introduction to the college’s majors and career possibilities, and a concluding white coat ceremony. Students will also learn about campus life and the university in general, such as Razorback and Senior Walk traditions, resources available to college students, and dining and residence halls.

“We are extremely excited about the partnership between Arkansas Lighthouse Academies and the University of Arkansas’ Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences,” said ALA Superintendent LaShawnDa D. Noel. “This collaboration speaks to each organization’s commitment to expose the future (scholars) to the agriculture industry through a multitude of carefully curated student-enrichment activities and experiences. We are hopeful that these experiences will continue to expose our scholars to various areas of agricultural sciences and foster additional opportunities for them to explore careers within the agri-STEM fields.”

“Our first objective is to educate students on the realm of opportunities within Bumpers College and highlight the specialized education and career opportunities,” Dilley said. “The second is to educate scholars in college readiness, specifically by introducing them to all the benefits of attending Bumpers College and the U of A. We want students to engage directly with leaders in the college and our faculty and learn about resources available to them when they are students here. Many of these students will be first-generation college students, and we want to help build intentional relationships with them to foster a positive experience with the U of A.”

In addition to campus activities, ALA students and staff will spend time at Crystal Bridges, learning about the intersection of art, agriculture, architecture and nature as it relates to horticulture, landscaping, and the grounds and trails around the museum.

The group will also interact and participate in leadership development activities with representatives of U of A’s chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Natural Sciences.

“Both Generation Z and agriculture play a vital role in our global economy and competitive workforce,” said Wendell Scales, ALA deputy director of innovation. “It’s our jobs as educators and key community stakeholders to ensure a well-developed agricultural sciences and technology pathway for underrepresented scholars in Arkansas is readily available.”

The week will be capped with the white coat ceremony.

“This is traditionally used to induct the next generation of researchers and professionals into their chosen field of study,” Dilley said. “It emphasizes the importance of continued education and challenges the next generation to go into the world to be difference makers. As the scholars complete the summer institute, Dean Fields and Dr. (Lona) Robertson (associate dean) will be inducting scholars into the world of higher education by ‘coating’ them during their white coat ceremony. It symbolizes their continued journey of education and the partnership with Bumpers College to help them along their way.”

Arkansas Lighthouse Academies has campuses in Jacksonville (K-12), Pine Bluff (K-8) and North Little Rock (K-5) and focuses on arts-infused programs with an emphasis on social development.

“We are thrilled to be partnered with Arkansas Lighthouse Academies,” Dilley said. “ALA is working to develop an Agri-STEM curriculum in its Pine Bluff campus. To add emphasis to its curriculum, Bumpers College is creating year-round connections with ALA by providing real-world research and career exposure. As a result, ALA scholars will be educated in all areas of Agri-STEM, and as it comes time to graduate, these scholars will be able to continue their careers as they study in one of our majors at Bumpers College.”

Administrators, teachers, staff, parents and students affiliated with other schools are encouraged to contact Dilley (kdilley@uark.edu, 479-575-2252) if interested in coordinating tours and visits.

“Bumpers College plans to develop additional day and multiday programs for PK-12 audiences,” Dilley said. “If any school or community group would like to inquire about creating a program based on your scholar’s goals, you are welcome to contact us. As always, any group can set up individual and group visits with Bumpers College.”

About the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences: Bumpers College provides life-changing opportunities to position and prepare graduates who will be leaders in the businesses associated with foods, family, the environment, agriculture, sustainability and human quality of life; and who will be first-choice candidates of employers looking for leaders, innovators, policy makers and entrepreneurs. The college is named for Dale Bumpers, former Arkansas governor and longtime US senator who made the state prominent in national and international agriculture. For more information about Bumpers College, visit our website, and follow us on Twitter at @BumpersCollege and Instagram at BumpersCollege.

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas’ flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the few US colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. US News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.

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