2023 Young Scholar Enhancement Grant Projects

The James Harrison Hill, Sr. Young Scholar Enhancement Grant Program is an extension of SSARE’s Research & Education Grants program, which allows researchers conducting SSARE-funded projects to partner with high school and undergraduate students on sustainable agriculture research.

The first James Harrison Hill, Sr. Young Scholar Enhancement Grants were awarded in 2013 with the goal to engage youth in the research process and encourage the pursuit of college degrees emphasizing sustainable agriculture. In 2023, eight young scholars were selected for the program. A digital copy of their research posters can be found below.

EDS21-29 (LS21-350) Improvement of Extension and Research Capabilities in Sustainable Sheep Production for a Hispanic Animal Science Student This project was designed to develop and strengthen extension and research capabilities for a female, Hispanic, sophomore student in an animal science program through her involvement in experiential learning and outreach activities using sheep.

LS21-354 Efficacy of Organic Nutrient Sources to Improve Water Holding Capacity: An experiential learning for Young Scholar in agricultural science This three-year study will evaluate (1) the efficacy of cyanobacteria biofertilizer in improving crop productivity and soil health, (2) the soil and water quality parameters from agricultural fields treated with cyanobacteria, and (3) the economic efficiency of replacing synthetic fertilizer with cyanobacteria biofertilizer.

No digital poster provided.

LS21-360 Capacity Building for Young Scholars through Experiential Learning in Plant Breeding and Genetics Calabaza, also called the "tropical pumpkin" holds a $30 million market value in the United States. Diseases, such as Zucchini yellow mosaic virus, can cause major challenges in Calabaza production. The Young Scholar research determined the resistance/susceptibility profile of 19 specialty pumpkin cultivars.

LS22-364 Organic Rice Ratoon Production Experience for Young Scholars through Internship Program This project aims to establish resilient organic ratoon rice production systems in the Southern US by integrating cover crops, organic soil amendments, and rice varieties to augment crop productivity, economic returns, and soil health. Additionally, it seeks to enhance the educational experiences of undergraduate STEM students, with a specific emphasis on encouraging women to actively participate in scientific endeavors.

LS22-366 Development of Sustainable Strategies for Managing Bacterial Diseases and Improving Tree Health in the Peach Production System This study focuses on evaluating biopesticides as more sustainable methods to manage Bacterial spot and improve peach production.

LS22-367 Training on Biological Recycling of Agricultural Residues with Mushroom for Multidimensional Use Evaluating the effects of spent mushroom substrate/compost, soil and fertilizer on romaine lettuce production in potted experiment in the greenhouse.

LS22-368 Farmers Market Support for Farmers in Crisis: A review of Storm Elliott response Through ten semi-structured farmer interviews and three with food system representatives, this project: Documented organizational strategies that help farmers maintain stability during weather crises; Identified supports that farmers markets and other actors provided for farmers; and developed practical recommendations for farmers and farmers markets to maintain stability during times of crisis.

LS22-374 Cover Crop Inter-seeding in Organic Corn Production to Reduce Resource Inputs and Soil Disturbance and Enhance Farm Profitability The long cash-crop growing season in the South limits the window for the successful establishment of fall cover crops. Interseeding summer cover crops alongside cash crops could potentially address this challenge. However, sound and comprehensive cultural management for interseeding cover crops must be in place to guarantee adoption by farmers. In addition, the likelihood of competition between the main crop and cover crops which can lead to yield decline must be addressed specifically. The student participated in a study aimed at evaluating different cover crops (buckwheat, pigeon pea, white clover, and their mixture) interseeded with organic corn at multiple seeding rates and under conventional tillage (two passes of a disc plow) or reduced tillage (one pass of a disc plow) conditions to identify cover crops and their management practices that alleviate soil compaction, suppress weed infestation, and enhance microbial communities that improve nutrient availability and soil health.

EDS22-35 (LS22-379) Student Experiential Learning in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Targeting Underserved Small Farmers Information is needed on the important plant diseases and casual agents impacting small farms in order to develop effective research, extension, and educational programs to address small farmers' integrated pest management needs and concerns. A preliminary plant disease survey was conducted in on six farms in southwest and central Mississippi to document the various plant pathogens impacting small farms. Additionally, a preliminary plant pest survey was conducted on six farms in southwest and central Mississippi to document the various pests and beneficial insects found on small farms.