Kentucky State University has signed a partnership agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to make its campus greener and funnel graduates into environmental careers.
The two-year agreement aims to boost the number of students in environmental fields and attract a more diverse workforce to the EPA, the agency said in a statement Wednesday.
At KSU, that could mean studying sustainability and energy issues, or focusing on agricultural policies, sustainable farming, local food systems and public health, according to the agreement.
The EPA could provide technical support to KSU researchers as they study the environment, health disparities, small farm production, air and water quality, watershed protection and weather.
KSU spokeswoman Felicia Lewis said university leaders haven’t set a budget yet and plan to “take some time to plan out the programs.”
The university must pay its own costs to participate, the agreement says.
KSU’s participation is part of a larger push to collaborate with historically black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions, said Gwen Keyes Fleming, administrator for the EPA’s southeast region.
The goal is to get the EPA’s message out to communities and seek feedback through the partner universities, she said.
She visited Frankfort Wednesday with Franklin Hill, a 1986 graduate of KSU, who now oversees superfund cleanup efforts in the southeast, including the BP oil spill, the Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash spill and Hurricane Katrina.
“I think the traditional notion has been that only certain people care about the environment, and that’s just simply not true,” Fleming said.
“We reach really anyone who takes a breath, anyone who drinks water – they all should be concerned about their environment and how to improve it.”
Wednesday’s signing was the 24th for the eight-state region, Fleming said. The EPA plans to sign a separate agreement with 18 land grant universities next week in Washington, D.C.