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Millennium Fellows Launch Big Box Farm Initiative

Sixteen Alma College students receive global recognition for an aquaponics urban farm project that addresses food security, rural poverty and community health.

The Alma College Millennium Fellows.The Alma College Millennium Fellows.A cohort of Alma College students have won international recognition as Millennium Fellows for a project designed to bring locally produced healthy food year-round to hospitals, food banks and other outlets in Gratiot County.

Alma College is one of 30 campuses worldwide selected to host Millennium Fellows  — an award that honors student leaders who are advancing social projects in their communities, says Derick Hulme, Alma’s Model United Nations faculty advisor.

“The recognition is extremely competitive with only 30 colleges and universities selected globally,” says Hulme. “It is a tremendous honor that reflects the hard work and dedication of Alma’s students. Our students are doing amazing things.”

Solutions for Promoting Sustainability

The Millennium Fellowship — a partnership between the Millennium Campus Network and the United Nations Academic Impact initiative — enables college students around the globe to bring issues they are passionate about to the public eye while working on cutting-edge solutions. The program specifically challenges student leaders in pursuing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, adopted in 2015 by world leaders for ending poverty and promoting sustainability, and provides training to make the student projects successful.

Millennium logoAlma’s students have launched the Big Box Farm initiative — a concept aimed at developing an indoor, aquaponics-based urban farm system in rural areas like Alma to help increase food security and overall community health, support local farmers, employ sustainable farming techniques and combat poverty.

In the short term, the students are assembling a small-scale aquaponics unit in the college greenhouse. It will be used to familiarize fellows on the system, gather research data and demonstrate how the system can be used on a larger scale.

‘Innovative and Bold’

Students Brittany Pierce, Leslie sophomore, and Madison Amlotte, Alpena junior, serve as the campus directors of the project, which involves students associated with Alma’s Model UN and Public Affairs Institute programs.

“We have done a tremendous amount of work over the past year getting this project off the ground and gaining community support,” says Pierce. “We’ve made excellent progress by achieving the opportunity to participate in this fellowship.”

Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture — raising fish in tanks — and hydroponics —cultivating plants in water. It is a method of farming in which the waste that is produced by the fish in the system provides nutrients for the plants that in turn purifies the water used in the system.

“The Big Box Farm addresses a critical public health need in Gratiot County,” says Amlotte. “I’m excited to work with a small-scale aquaponic unit, which is a key step toward developing a large-scale system.

“It is incredibly humbling to see our work and campus represented with some of the most innovative and bold projects being completed worldwide by our peers,” she says. “This opportunity is one that I would not trade, and I cannot wait to see how the project develops.”

Addressing Civic Needs

The continued success of Alma College’s Model United Nations team spans more than two decades. Alma students have captured the highest awards at the National Model UN Conference in New York City for 22 consecutive years.

Alma College’s Public Affairs Institute offers experiences for students who are interested in leadership development and addressing local, national and international civic needs.

The Alma College Millennium Fellows:

  • Atuyla Dora-Laskey, Lansing junior
  • Arieanna Eaton, Edwardsburg senior
  • Bridget Flanery, Sparta junior
  • Brittany Pierce, Leslie sophomore
  • Cassidy Beach, Pinckney sophomore
  • Darius Kinney, Detroit junior
  • Destiny Herbers, Roscommon sophomore
  • Hannah Chrome, Mason sophomore
  • Jaycee Wise, Grand Haven senior
  • Leah Spiker, Pickford sophomore
  • Maliena Boone, Muskegon senior
  • Maria Ruedisueli, Marshall sophomore
  • Montgomery Finch, Williamsburg junior
  • Madison Amlotte, Alpena junior
  • Rose Cyburt, St. Clair Shores junior
  • Samuel Nelson, Grand Haven junior
Story published on September 20, 2018