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Northeast Woody/Warm-season Biomass Consortium


The NEWBio education program will develop critical human capital by preparing learners to understand, contribute to, and lead the NE bioenergy industry via three coordinated, complimentary programs that inform, engage, and enable students at secondary, undergraduate, and graduate levels.  These programs dovetail with our research and extension programs and leverage existing program infrastructure and expertise within the team to allow for maximum impact. The education program includes the following inter-related components:

Task 7.1: Secondary educator training (Rutzke, Richard)

Secondary educator training builds on the successful National Bioenergy and Bioproducts Education (BBE) program led by Cornell University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore by providing training to secondary school teachers and extension educators through a series of multi-day workshops, coupled with provision of teaching kits that empowers participants to teach bioenergy principles in an interactive, participatory manner.  These programs will be delivered in PA and WV, significantly expanding the coverage of the BBE program currently funded for NY, OH, MD and DE.  This program "trains the trainers" who impart base knowledge and understanding of bioenergy to the region’s youth. 

Task 7.2: Regional Bioenergy Scholars (Kalavacharla, Richard)

Undergraduate and graduate students will be exposed to advanced bioenergy principles and practice through summer internships, either with a regional bioenergy company or at a different NEWBio host university. These learning experiences will be coupled with site visits to bioenergy fields and facilities and seminars by notable experts, and conclude with reflective "final reports" and poster presentations to their peers and colleagues at the NEWBio annual meeting.

This program will inspire and prepare students to pursue careers in bioenergy. The program builds on successful programs established by the NEWBio team such as NSF-REU’s on Molecular Genetics & Genomics (Kavalchara) and Biological Responses to the Environment from Genes to the Ecosystem (DiFazio),  the Bioenergy Internship program at SUNY-ESF (Volk), the Summer Research Scholars Program at the Cornell (Smart) and the Summer Research Opportunities Program at Penn State (Richard), and will recruit using existing linkages with colleges nationwide, including University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Turtle Mountain Community College, South Dakota.

Task 7.3: Graduate distance education in bioenergy (Ciolkosz)

This effort will address the growing need for advanced bioenergy education away from the college campus.  We will leverage the newly created online Masters of Professional Studies in Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems (iMPS-RESS) at Penn State by providing cost-free access to selected students for enrollment in the four 3-credit graduate level bioenergy courses developed for iMPS-RESS.  Students who complete all four courses will receive a postgraduate certificate in bioenergy, and may continue on for the full masters program.  These courses are designed to provide advanced skills in bioenergy technology and project development, and will create world-class experts in bioenergy who will grow the industry sustainably and effectively. 

These three complementary efforts will impart skills and understanding vital to growing the bioenergy industry in a way that trains the future workforce and educates the citizenry, allowing for informed decision making.  The three efforts are designed to work in synergy.  Standout students who complete the Bioenergy Scholars program will be candidates to assist with the "Secondary Educator Training" workshops.  Students and teachers who complete their programs will be encouraged to further expand their knowledge and advance their careers by enrolling in distance education graduate courses.  Program participants will develop a network for mutual support and encouragement, utilizing online social media tools to allow professional relationships to develop long after the formal educational program is complete. 

Expected outcomes

Expected outcomes include:

External evaluators (see below) will provide guidance for establishment of individual task evaluation plans, and will provide incremental and summary evaluation of the education program's effectiveness, combined with recommendations for improvement.

NEWBio (consortium members below) is supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2012-68005-19703 
from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
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