Objective 3: STEM engagement

The MEA Center of Excellence will support expanding students’ knowledge of and engagement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. These efforts, aimed at middle school, high school, community college and undergraduate students, will increase interest in the food, agriculture, natural resources and human (FANH) sciences and related STEM fields.

Several studies on this topic suggest that early exposure to agricultural experiences and career paths during middle and high school can positively influence agricultural perceptions and attitudes. Research also shows that students who have an interest in STEM in the early years of their education are more likely to pursue that interest, resulting in a STEM-related career.

Unfortunately, by the eighth grade, many students have concluded that STEM subjects are too challenging or boring. The center will address this problem by focusing on middle and high school students. Programs held outside school hours, such as 4-H and FFA, have long-standing impacts on the youth whom they serve and can help close the achievement gap.

Center partners will boost the capacity of their institutions to offer innovative programming, including camps, internships, research projects, laboratory work and science competitions for students. The center will serve as a clearinghouse to share detailed plans and best practices about these programs among the 1890 institutions.

Objective Leaders

  • Misty Blue-Terry, Ph.D., N.C. A&T
  • Verian D. Thomas, Ph.D., Florida A&M University