The University of Guam College of Natural & Applied Sciences hosted college students from other tropical islands this summer for the 2018 Caribbean and Pacific Consortium Summer Agriculture Experiential Program.
College students from American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam took part in the two-week internship from June 11 to 22 that provided career-enhancing opportunities in both agricultural and environmental sciences.
“The program exposed me to relevant issues and topics that the people of Guam and other island nations are facing,” said Daryll Keller, an undergraduate student studying tropical agriculture at UOG who participated in the program. “The practicality of the program further helped me to better prepare myself in solving real-world problems.”
The program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Resident Instruction Grant Program, which was obtained by Dr. Mari Marutani, professor of horticulture at UOG’s Western Pacific Tropical Research Center. It provides support to colleges and universities in insular areas for various aspects of agriculture, food and nutrition, watershed preservation, and environmental exploration.
Dr. Hauhouot Diambra-Odi, associate professor of animal science with UOG’s Cooperative Extension & Outreach unit, conducted the program at UOG, which included sessions on composting, poultry, plant extinction, sustainable agriculture, aquaponics, horticulture, irrigation, urban gardening, watersheds, and more.
Ferdinand Galsim, a research associate at the Western Pacific Tropical Research Center, presented to the students the only large-scale composting production in Guam. Students had the opportunity to observe the machine that turns the compost as well as other testing equipment used in making large-scale and quality compost.
“Guam is still facing challenges in agricultural sustainability and environmental concerns,” Galsim said. “I believe this program provides awareness and a great opportunity for students to share what they have learned with their communities and make a difference.”
Dr. Mohammad Golabi, professor of soil science at the Western Pacific Tropical Research Center, presented his real-time irrigation system project showing how to optimize irrigation scheduling for vegetable production across diverse climatic zones in the Pacific.
“The main objective is to improve water use efficiency for selected vegetable crops in these islands,” Golabi said. “By also implementing an outreach program targeting farmers and other agriculture professionals, it can enhance awareness in adopting an irrigation management strategy that conserves water resources while enhancing crop productivity.”
The students said the demonstrations provided valuable knowledge for their islands.
UOG undergraduate student Leroy Kaminaga said, “The smart irrigation could help farmers save tons of water. This was one of the many different techniques that demonstrated how to be eco-friendly and at the same time integrate new technologies in agriculture on tropical islands.”
According to Inny Mareko, a student from American Samoa Community College, Guam and American Samoa share similar agricultural practices and challenges.
“The time spent learning this new information has been amazing, and I would like to do it again in another country or island to expand my knowledge in the field of agriculture,” Mareko said. “I highly recommend this program to all students interested in agricultural science in an insular territory.”
Christine Tominiko, also from American Samoa Community College, said, “I got to experience a new environment and meet people of various backgrounds and ethnicities. Guam was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a student like me, and I am so glad that I was able to take part in this program.”
Florentino Bondoc, an undergraduate student at UOG, said, “Being a UOG student gives me a great pleasure in joining students from American Samoa and U.S. Virgin Islands. The program enhanced my awareness in every aspect of agriculture, including plants, animals, marine life, and the environment.”
The partner institutions in the CariPac Consortium benefit from each other’s knowledge and experience through virtual classroom capabilities, faculty development trainings, and community outreach programs.
Hosting the program again next year is dependent upon funding, Diambra-Odi said. Students interested in participating next year should stay tuned to announcements from the College of Natural & Applied Sciences and can also contact Dr. Mari Marutani, professor of horticulture at UOG’s Western Pacific Tropical Research Center, at 735-2131 or email@example.com.
CariPac was established in 2005 to bring needed funds into agricultural and food science programs. The consortium includes institutions in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Palau, and Guam. (UOG)