INITIATIVE: UC Sprouts
The vision of the UC Sprouts program is to provide quality supplemental STEM education to elementary students in the Merced community by developing and executing a curriculum that will allow them to plant and tend to an edible garden. During the early developmental phases, CITRIS has supported this initiative by providing the initial funding needed to purchase the necessary resources. Elementary students will get the chance to learn about plant development, nutritious eating, the importance of recycling and composting, and learn about going to college from other UC Merced students.
California’s Central Valley is one of the most important agricultural hubs in the world; meanwhile, the region experiences a continuous brain-drained as talented youth, college graduates and professionals pursue career opportunities outside of the valley. This disconnect between higher education and our local communities has decreased the rate of environmental literacy in Merced County. According to the Nation’s Report Card, 66% of 4th graders are scoring basic or below proficient in reading and a respective 59% in mathematics throughout the U.S. From these statistics, we can extrapolate that environmental literacy education has been overlooked. This is a serious problem that jeopardizes the future of our natural resources nationally.
Meanwhile, UC Merced has established itself as a leader in environmental sustainability and energy efficiency in an area that is heavily dependent on the preservation of our natural ecosystem for economic success. With a multitude of programs available to those interested in Earth Sciences, there are many opportunities for students- and by extension, the community – to discover the beauty of preserving and maintain the resources which are an essential component to California’s vitality.