The foundation, which is funded by donations from the profits of Milwaukee-based A. O. Smith Corp., has committed $250,000 over five years to cover expenses, including initial startup costs, maintenance and staff for the new greenhouse.
The 1,400-square-foot facility will include an aquaponics system and a classroom space, and will be available to undergraduate and area high school students. The facility will host learning opportunities and research projects related to 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, 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 is expected to begin within the next month and to be complete in December.
“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,” said Mark Petrarca, senior vice president of human resources and public affairs at A. O. Smith and A. O. Smith Foundation board of directors’ secretary.
Alverno has also 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, to support the project.
“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, vice president for academic affairs at Alverno.