This past June, the University of Guam (UOG) hosted the 2018 Caribbean and Pacific (CariPac) agriculture experiential program. College students from American Samoa, the US Virgin Islands, and Guam took part in a two-week internship that provided career-enhancing opportunities in both agricultural and environmental sciences.
CariPac was established in 2005 and includes institutions from the Caribbean and Pacific islands (Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Palau and Guam). The USDA Resident Instruction Grant Program provides support to college and universities in Insular Areas. It covers various aspects of agriculture, food and nutrition, watershed preservation, and environmental exploration. Mari Marutani, professor of horticulture, obtained the grant and Hauhouot Diambra-Odi, associate professor of animal science, conducted the program at UOG.
According to Inny Mareko, a student from American Samoa Community College, Guam and American Samoa share similar agricultural practices and challenges. Mareko adds, “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. I highly recommend this program to all students interested in agricultural science in a insular territory.” Christine Tominiko, also from American Samoa, said, “Overall, I learned new things about agriculture throughout this internship and had lots of fun as well. 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. Fa’afetai tele lava.” Another student, Daryl Richards from U.S Virgin Islands commented, “My experience with the CariPac internship program was unforgettable. It was enjoyable and educational.”
Ferdinand Galsim, a research associate at the UOG Western Pacific Tropical Research Center presented the only large-scale composting production in Guam to the students. Richards and others 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.
Mohammad Golabi, professor of soil science at UOG also presented his real-time irrigation system project. Richards believes farmers in his community can benefit from Dr. Golabi’s composting and real-time irrigation research. “The purpose of this real-time project is to demonstrate optimal irrigation management strategies by optimizing irrigation scheduling for vegetable production across diverse climatic zones in the Pacific Islands. The main objective is to improve water use efficiency for selected vegetable crops in these islands. 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,” said Golabi.
Daryll Keller, Leroy Kaminaga, and Florentino Bondoc are undergraduate students in tropical agriculture science program at UOG. Keller believes the CariPac program has greatly expanded his experience and knowledge of Tropical Agriculture. “The Program exposed me to relevant issues and topics that the people of Guam and other island nations are currently facing. The practicality of the program further helped me to better prepare myself in solving real world problems.” Kaminaga emphasized, “The smart irrigation could also help farmers save tons of water. This was one of the many different techniques that demonstrated how to be ecofriendly and at the same time integrate new technologies in agriculture on tropical islands.” For Bondoc, “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.”
“Guam is still facing challenges in agricultural sustainability, and environmental concerns. 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,” said Galsim. CariPac institutions have also benefitted from virtual classroom capabilities, faculty development trainings, and community outreach programs.
For more information about the CariPac Internship Program, please contact Professor Hauhouot Diambra-Odi, at (671) 735- 2142 or firstname.lastname@example.org.