Milwaukee, (Sept. 9, 2020) – Alverno College is partnering with the A. O. Smith Foundation to construct a greenhouse on campus, offering students an exciting new opportunity to engage in hands-on learning and explore new career paths.

 The 1,400-square-foot facility will feature an aquaponics system and a classroom space. Hundreds of undergraduate students, as well as area high school students, will participate in learning opportunities and research projects in preparation for careers in the food, agricultural, natural resources and human sciences industries.

 “Alverno is proud to empower women and girls to explore and launch STEM careers, and the greenhouse offers a new way for us to engage our students in the experiential learning that is the cornerstone of an Alverno education,” said Angela Frey, Ph.D., chair of the STEM program at Alverno College. “We look forward to using this unique space to attract more women, including more women of color, to fields where their expertise and leadership are greatly needed and where their potential to serve their communities can be realized.”

 Construction on the facility will begin within the next month and is expected to be complete in December.

 As lead sponsor of the project, the A. O. Smith Foundation has committed $250,000 in funding over five years to cover expenses, including initial startup, maintenance and staff.

 “We are proud to partner with Alverno on this project, further advancing our mission of making our community a better place to live and work. We know that by investing in these students, we can help make STEM a field where more women are empowered to thrive and lead,” says Mark Petrarca, senior vice president of human resources and public affairs at A. O. Smith and A. O. Smith Foundation board of directors’ secretary.

 A cross-disciplinary team of Alverno faculty is leading the design of new classroom curricula and developing hands-on research opportunities to engage high school and college students in the fields of urban agriculture, water research and conservation. 

 The program will provide Alverno with additional opportunities to recruit, retain and graduate women in a wide variety of STEM majors, including underrepresented minority students, and to create a pipeline to new career opportunities. To assist with the project, Alverno has received a $273,786 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the College’s first major grant tied to its status as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI).

 As Wisconsin’s first HSI, Alverno is proud to serve a diverse student population, many of whom are first in their families to earn college degrees.

 “Ultimately, the greenhouse project will positively impact the community in which our students live and work and will help build our nation’s growing urban agriculture sector, promote environmentally sound and sustainable practices, and strengthen participation in the sciences among students who are currently significantly underrepresented in these areas,” said Joseph Foy, Ph.D., vice president for Academic Affairs at Alverno.