Addressing Climate change through Integrated and applied learning opportunities for underrepresented students in Science.

The USDA-ACIS Grant endeavor is to increase the number of underrepresented students attaining natural resource and agriculture science degrees related to sustainability in Southwest Arizona while advancing education equity to a geographically - isolated population. ACIS is centered on climate change and its complex biotic interactions that affect wildlife and agricultural ecosystems while equipping students with 21st century skills, such as critical thinking, science literacy, problem solving, and communication.

Grant Objectives

(a) Increase the number of underrepresented groups attaining postsecondary degrees in natural resource and agricultural sciences;
(b) Advance education equity while strengthening the capacity to provide quality postsecondary instruction;
(c) Align AWC’s effort with public/private sector in support of academic development and career attainment;
(d) Facilitate skill and competency development of students to ensure they are competitive academically and in the job market.

USDA-NIFA Photo with a group of kids

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) provides leadership and funding for programs that advance agriculture-related sciences. We invest in and support initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of agriculture.

Since the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Bill) authorized its creation, NIFA has taken significant strides toward enhancing the impact of food, agriculture, natural resources, and human sciences. NIFA applies an integrated approach to ensure that groundbreaking discoveries in agriculture-related sciences and technologies reach the people who can put them into practice.

NIFA collaborates with leading scientists, policymakers, experts, and educators in organizations throughout the world to find innovative solutions to the most pressing local and global problems. Scientific progress, made through discovery and application:

  • Advances the competitiveness of American agriculture
  • Bolsters the U.S. economy
  • Enhances the safety of the nation’s food supply
  • Improves the nutrition and well-being of American citizens
  • Sustains natural resources and the environment
  • Builds energy independence

In partnership with other federal science agencies, NIFA also serves as a vital contributor to science policy decision-making.

Who we are

NIFA — a federal agency within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) — is part of USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area. The agency administers federal funding to address the agricultural issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation’s future.

What we do

NIFA programs propel cutting-edge discoveries from research laboratories to farms, classrooms, communities, and back again. Through three main federal-funding mechanisms, NIFA supports programs that address key national challenge areas.

How we work

NIFA uses an integrated approach to ensure scientific discoveries reach the people who can put them to use. Through partnerships with the Land-Grant University System and government, private, and non-profit organizations, our research, education, and extension programs are able to provide solutions to those who need them.

For more information please feel free to visit the NIFA USDA website:

Career Pathways

ACIS’ innovative multidisciplinary approach to the environmental challenge develops a new educational methodology that will be institutionalized, allowing students to progressively increase their knowledge, comprehension, and application of theories and skills, learn research techniques, acquire the ability to analyze, synthesize and evaluate research data and theories, and develop approaches to solve science-based problems related to climate variations.

ACIS will recruit, cultivate, and develop the next generation of scientists, leaders, and highly-skilled workforce for agriculture, natural resources, forestry, range management, environmental systems, and life sciences while focusing on climate change and its impact on the environment. The following pathways will provide a clear and concise course for those students to follow while pursuing a career at USDA or in a food and agricultural science.

Course Curriculum Documents

Climate Change
File Name Downloads
Assessing Agricultural Risk of Climate Change Download
Climate Change in Yuma County Download
Climate Change Vulnerability in the Food, Energy, and Water Nexus Download
A Biological Approach to Climate Change
File Name Downloads
Introduction Climate Change Lab Exercise Download
Introduction Climate Change Long Download
Introduction Climate Change Short Download
Climate Change Dispersal Lecture Download
Climate Change One Health Dispersal Download
Climate Change One Health Download
Climate Change Global Warming Download
Climate Change Global Warming Download
A Natural History View of Climate Change
File Name Downloads
Natural History Climate Change Lab Download
Natural History Climate Change Lab PPT Download
An Agricultural Approach to Climate Change
File Name Downloads
Climate Change and Biodiversity Lab Download
Climate Change and Biodiversity Download
An Environmental Approach to Climate Change
File Name Downloads
Carbon Cycle Greenhouse Effect Download
Climate Change USDA-ACIS Grant Download
Ocean Acidification Climate Change Download
ENV Introduction to Climate Change Download
Post-Quiz Download
Pre-Quiz Download
Test Bank Download
Global Climate Change Student Note Sheet Download
Global Climate Change Evidence Response (KEY) Download
Global Climate Change Evidence Response Sheets for Students Download
Global Climate Change Evidence Download
Drying of the West Lab Activity Sheet Download
Drying of the West SW Instructor Instructions Download
Drying of the West Lab Activity Sheet (KEY) Download
The Drying of the West Download
Pollen and Climate Change (LAB) Download
Pollen and Climate Change Download
Pollen View Student Instructions Download
Land Laboratory
File Name Downloads
 Outdoor Lab Interactive Map Download

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Internship and Research Opportunities


Scholarship Opportunities

  • USDA -Contact Sarah Berner for more information on scholarships due this semester.

On Campus Review Committee

Dr. Cecilia Vigil -USDA- ACIS Grant Project Director, AS-125, (928) 344-7555

Sarah Berner -USDA-ACIS Grant Co- Project Director, AS-136, (928) 344-7562

Mariah L. Hall - USDA-ACIS- Grant Coordinator/Advisor

Brenda Jaleel - USDA-ACIS- Grant Coordinator/Advisor

Raney Grissom-Brown -USDA Farm services Agency Program Technician

Tanya Hodges -Regional Academic Program Coordinator (University of Arizona) AS–137

Carlos Ramos - Financial Aid Scholarship Specialist (AWC) 3C –Top Floor