It was a bittersweet day at the Treasure Coast Research Park last week as the Marine & Oceanographic Society (MOA) students did their final field research day for the 2014/15 academic year. The students, a diverse and talented group of Westwood High School students who have been chosen to participate in the program which is housed at Florida Atlantic University’s Oceanographic Institution, have been taking samples, doing monthly tests, and conducting research on site since September The group of two dozen Advanced Placement Environmental Science students has also been enjoying discussions and presentations from world-class research scientists during Lunch and Learn sessions.
Tracy Griffin, the Marine Science Instructor at Harbor Branch Institute, said the experience had been a really positive and inspirational experience for the students. For the students, the hands on opportunity to conduct research and the chance to hear from scientists working in the field has been invaluable. “This has been an awesome opportunity for the students and for me,” she said. “We are really grateful to TCERDA for this opportunity, and we look forward to a long partnership with the Research Park.”
Created in 2005 as a partnership between the St. Lucie Board of County Commissioners and the University of Florida, the Treasure Coast Research Park was designed to spotlight and encourage bio-technological and agricultural research. In addition to creating an atmosphere conducive to research and education, the Treasure Coast Education Research Development Authority has created an infrastructure to encourage and support research in the areas of food, energy and water. The collaboration with the St. Lucie County School Board, Florida Atlantic University, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) research facilities on site at the Treasure Coast Research Park just west of Kings Highway in Fort Pierce was a natural evolution of the mission of the facility and its leadership. Indeed, TCERDA’s board of directors is looking forward to the MOA students’ return in the fall, when they will have completed and will present a report on their findings.
To learn more about the Treasure Coast Research Park and all the opportunities for research, development and commerce in St. Lucie County, or to schedule a meeting or presentation about the Treasure Coast Research Park and TCERDA’s initiatives please call 772-467-3107, or visit www.treasurecoastresearchpark.com.
Long known as a Thanksgiving dinner staple, the humble sweet potato might hold some surprising and practically magical powers. Nationally renowned research scientist, Dr. Brian Bowman, has been exploring research and extension activities and investigating the efficacy of harvesting sweet potatoes into an ethanol-based biofuel powerful enough to fuel a jet airplane. The future of agriculture has a lot to do with creating environmentally-responsible and renewable resources, maintaining the rich nutrients found in soil, and projects like the ones being done through USDA and the Treasure Coast Research Park could one day soon create the world’s next energy source – one that can fuel jet planes and people alike.
To learn more about the Treasure Coast Research Park and all the opportunities for research, development and commerce in St. Lucie County, or to schedule a meeting or presentation about the Treasure Coast Research Park and TCERDA’s initiatives please call 772-467-3107, or visit.
FORT PIERCE — The seven-acre lake on the site of the Treasure Coast Research Park was recently taken over by a band of APES. These APES, Advanced Placement Environmental Studies students, were exploring the aquaculture at the Treasure Coast Research Park as a partnership between the Treasure Coast Education Research Development Authority (TCERDA), Florida Atlantic University and the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute’s Marine and Oceanographic Academy (MOA) through the St. Lucie County School Board.
Led by Harbor Branch scientist Tracy Griffin and Westwood High School’s MOA Program Facilitator and teacher, Kasey Grace, nearly four dozen APES students descended upon the pond to take samples, test water quality, measure and identify shoreline vegetation and algae density. They also determined animal abundance by dip netting and identifying any species found in sediment cores, determined grain size and composition of sediment, and attempted to assess larger species abundance and composition by fishing.
When the group was finished with the sampling and research duties, they gathered for a working lunch and the opportunity to have informal discussions with three highly respected research scientists affiliated with the Treasure Coast Research Park, including Dr. Peter Stoffella, professor and center director for the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Indian River Research and Education Center (UF/IFAS/IRREC), Extension Agent and Natural Resources and Environmental Specialist, Ken Gioeli, who serves UF/IFAS St. Lucie County and Dr. Chris Wilson, who spoke about the path he took on the road to becoming one of the nation’s most renowned experts in environmental risk, best management practices and water quality.
The day’s activities were planned and coordinated jointly by all participating partners in an effort to provide exceptional and unique learning opportunities for students in St. Lucie County and to spotlight the collaborative nature of all of the resources available through the Treasure Coast Research Park. Currently comprised of 356 acres of facility prepped and ready for vertical development by public, private, and educational research partners, the Treasure Coast Research Park’s future expansions include a total of 1,650 acres of area designed specifically for agricultural and bio-technology focused research.
The APES students will be returning to TCERDA for further research, discussions and presentations with additional research scientists and environmental specialists, and given the enthusiasm and excitement from the students at the close of the first of these hands-on learning adventures, the collaboration between these organizations will likely continue far into the future as yet another unique and precipitous means of educational delivery and opportunity.
To learn more about the Treasure Coast Research Park and all the opportunities for research, development and commerce in St. Lucie County, please contact Ben Devries at the TCERDA at 772-467-3107, or visit http://www.treasurecoastresearchpark.com.
Two college seniors from the University of Florida at Gainesville recently completed a yearlong competition to create a sustainable, environmentally and fiscally responsible design for water management in agriculture. Vying for a cash prize, agricultural engineering majors Jose Rafael Guarin and Max Wallace, utilized the Adams Ranch in St. Lucie County as the subject and inspiration for their project – a piece of interactive software which they presented and demonstrated for the first time at the competition.
As part of a learning and awareness-building project sponsored by the Treasure Coast Research Education Development Authority (TCERDA) in cooperation with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Indian River Research and Education Center (UF/IFAS/IRREC), since September, the pair has been researching, planning, visiting, measuring, brainstorming, and pricing out a variety of options to investigate the fiscally and environmentally sound way to manage the flow of water needed to support agricultural programs. The design created by the dynamic duo was a piece of interactive software designed to assist farmers, ranchers, and potential property owners in making the best decisions about land and water usage. The program they developed was formally presented to a team of well-respected and experienced judges comprised of members of the agriculture and citrus communities, fellow engineers, and environmental specialists.
Wallace explained that the entire experience had been tremendously educational for him and Guarin his collaborator, giving them an opportunity to learn hands-on lessons about the difference between having a great idea and finding a way to provide the client (in this case the Adams Ranch) with potential solutions that were not only feasible but affordable, too. “It was a nice change to have, not just an exam or being questioned by a professor, the judges are actually concerned that what we developed is a real, usable tool. It was a really great experience.”
The final presentation and awards were held at TCERDA’s 1,650-acre Research and Education Park, located off of Kings Highway. Anchored by the USDA’s 170,000 square-foot Horticultural Research Laboratory and the 90,000 square-foot University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, St. Lucie County’s Education and Research Park is home to more than 200 scientists, researchers, and educators. If you’re interested in learning more about TCERDA and the opportunity to become a part of this incredible research and educational landmark, please call DeVries at the TCERDA office at (772) 467-3107 or visit www.tcerda.org.
The Science Social, a gathering of the greatest minds and coolest researchers in the area was held at TCERDA recently, and it was not just a great chance to network and meet – it was a resounding success. The Science Social is sponsored by the St. Lucie County Research & Education Coalition (SLC REC) and the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County.
The St. Lucie Research & Education Coalition is an organization formed to facilitate the sharing of information and resources among its member institutions, and to encourage cooperative projects to enhance research, education and economic development in St. Lucie County.
Always eager to learn more about and support the incredible research going on right here on the Treasure Coast, through Treasure Coast Research Park, Florida Senator Bill Nelson stopped by on Friday to catch up and check out a few of the projects. He also took the time to speak with several local growers and business people from the citrus industry and to get a firsthand look at the changes and improvements in the Treasure Coast Research Park on Pruitt Research Road.
It happens every April, and it’s one of our favorite days of the year. The USDA/US Horticultural Research Laboratory Annual Open House is scheduled for Wednesday, April 2nd, and you should mark it on your calendar in pen right now!
Starting at 11:00 sharp, you’ll have a chance to go behind-the-scenes where some of the world’s most cutting edge research is taking place. It’s not open to the public any other time – except at this one very special event. Our scientists and informed guides will explain what research is going on in our facility, walk you through some of our labs, give you insight into our Insectary, greenhouses, and farm, and you’ll have a chance to see the same groundbreaking research that’s changing the way the whole world looks at citrus genetics, food quality, crop pest and disease control, post-harvest products, and even water quality.
All that touring and knowledge might make you hungry, but don’t worry because we’ve got that covered, too. You’ll have a chance to sample locally grown juices, vegetables, and fruits, and be served a complimentary “Taste of Florida” featuring samples of some of our area’s finest offerings. Best of all, it won’t cost you a penny to take this tour and enjoy learning so much more about the amazing things that are happening right in our own back yard. While you’re here, why not take a walking tour of the changes to the Treasure Coast Education Research Development Authority’s incredible complex just off Kings Highway on Pruitt Research Road. You’ll be amazed at what’s been done already, and you’ll be blown away by the cool stuff to come as this area transitions to a world-class research destination.
Mark your calendar now for Wednesday, April 2nd, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)/U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory Annual Open House, located at 2001 S. Rock Road in Fort Pierce. For details, directions, or more information, call