Cultivating Empowerment and Sustainability in the Amani Neighborhood – NSBE’s Hydroponics STEM Program

NSBE backs the new hydroponics STEM program stands as a transformative initiative that aims to educate students on the innovative technique of hydroponic farming, while simultaneously fostering empowerment and sustainability. This new program in Milwaukee also instills in the students valuable insights into the realm of sustainable agriculture practices. The program, spearheaded by the visionary Mitchelle Lyle, a lifetime member of the National Society of Black Engineers Milwaukee Area Professionals Chapter(NSBE – MAP), exemplifies the fusion of passion for STEM and community service.

Pioneering Sustainable Agriculture in Milwaukee:

At the forefront of sustainable farming methods lies hydroponics, an innovative technique that eliminates the need for traditional soil by delivering essential nutrients directly to plant roots through a water-based system. This method offers a multitude of advantages, including increased crop yields, efficient water usage, reduced reliance on pesticides, and the ability to cultivate plants in urban environments. Through the program, we witness the incredible potential of hydroponics to address pressing agricultural challenges and revolutionize the future of sustainable food production.

Empowering Students and Communities:

The hydroponics STEM program goes beyond the theoretical realm, providing students with hands-on experience in hydroponic farming. By actively engaging in the process of growing plants, students develop not only valuable skills but also a deeper understanding of sustainable agriculture. This empowerment enables them to make informed decisions regarding food production and instills within them a sense of responsibility to advocate for sustainable practices within their communities.

A central focus of the program lies in addressing food insecurity, particularly within underserved communities. By targeting neighborhoods with limited access to fresh and nutritious produce, NSBE’s hydroponics program seeks to create sustainable solutions. Through hydroponic farming, students learn the art of cultivating fresh, organic produce in controlled environments, thereby providing a dependable source of nourishment to areas affected by the prevalence of food deserts.

Addressing Food Insecurity in the Amani Neighborhood

A central focus of the program lies in addressing food insecurity, particularly within the Amani neighborhood. With over half (55%) of Amani residents living in households with incomes below the poverty line, compared to 25% for the City of Milwaukee overall, the urgency to create sustainable solutions becomes evident. By equipping students with the tools and knowledge of hydroponic farming, NSBE’s program offers a viable path to combat food insecurity in this underserved community. The classes are housed in the Dominican Center which supports Amani United and its residents in community improvement objectives. Students learn how to cultivate fresh, organic produce in controlled environments, providing a reliable source of nourishment for Amani residents, particularly children under 5 years old and those 18 years old or younger who make up a significant proportion of households living below the poverty line. Incorporating STEM, each student has the opportunity to build a hydroponic system to take home including, seeds, nutrients and other necessities to continue putting what they’ve learned into practice.  This has the potential to provide access to organic fresh produce in 5 Amani homes throughout the year, as some of the participants are siblings in this cohort.

Inspiring Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The hydroponics program also serves as a catalyst for nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit among students. By exploring the diverse applications of hydroponics across various contexts, students are encouraged to think creatively and develop innovative solutions to address agricultural challenges. In addition to learning a plants life cycle and needs, they’re learning the STEM behind the functionality of the hydroponic system. This mindset of innovation and problem-solving lays a solid foundation, preparing them to become future leaders in sustainable agriculture and related industries to feed their families and neighbors.

Under Mitchelle Lyle’s leadership the hydroponics program serves as a catalyst for nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit among students in the Amani neighborhood. By providing students with hands-on experience and knowledge in hydroponic farming, the program not only ignites a passion for environmental stewardship but also addresses the issue of food insecurity and nurtures a spirit of innovation. As students cultivate fresh produce and become ambassadors of sustainability, they actively participate in shaping a greener, healthier, and more empowered future for themselves and their communities.

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