Urban Environmental Learning Center

The Urban Environmental Learning Center is the centerpiece of the Environmental Justice portfolio providing training and education to community members in a multitude of programs.

Programs include:
Gary Indiana Farming-Talent Students (GIFTS) is a Junior Master Program led by Families Anchored In Total Harmony, Inc. to teach 10-18 year old students in the surrounding neighborhoods of Gary, Indiana to be certified as Junior Master Gardeners.  The program starts during the school day, in classroom access to Texas A&M University’s Junior Master Gardener curriculum.  Teachers trained as Master Gardeners provide theory and test comprehension.  Local farm and growing partners provide students with access to Black urban farms, aquaponics, and hydroponic sites (in development) for hands-on application.  The 2021-2022 school year was the first deployment of GIFTS, with a total of 100 students ages 9-17 participating, and 32 students were certified as Junior Master Gardeners.  Older students in the late middle school and high school age range have already identified continued interest in agricultural careers and the continuation of the on-site farming interaction for the summer of 2023.  Working the land, applying Junior Master Gardener knowledge, and bringing fresh produce home to their families instills pride of self-sufficiency in our youth.  This program grows hope where hope is much needed.