Ten years ago, Evan Lucas would wander around Baltimore, noticing the blighted and obsolete buildings. With his background in construction and property development, he would think about how those buildings could be refurbished and put to use in different ways instead of being demolished and rebuilt, all on the taxpayer’s dime.
Now a professor at Northern Michigan University in the state’s Upper Peninsula, Lucas has combined his family’s farming background with his desire to see old buildings converted to new uses by spearheading the launch of the university’s new Indoor Agriculture program, a two-year associate’s degree focused on indoor cannabis and food production.
Partnering with professors Kim Smith and Donna Becker from the school’s Biology department, Lucas, who works in the school’s Technology and Occupational Sciences department, “created this sort of interdisciplinary approach because we think that there's also some connections that need to be made between what we teach in higher ed and what the industries need,” he tells Cannabis Business Times. The program blends plant science, facility design, entrepreneurship and business management to prepare graduates for careers in various aspects of indoor agriculture.
NMU has been at the forefront of cannabis education at universities, being one of the first accredited institutions to launch a Medicinal Plant Chemistry degree that looks at the chemical makeup of medicinal plants, including cannabis, and their potential applications in healthcare. The Indoor Agriculture program differs in that it focuses on “plant physiology, the chemical makeup of nutrients within these specific plants and the systems involved to grow these different types of plants indoors,” Lucas explains.
Students won’t be practicing on growing cannabis (at least for now), and instead will learn how to grow food in indoor environments, with the idea that the theories and practices they learn growing food will translate effectively to cannabis production.
To increase the experiential learning opportunities, the school is converting an aviation lab into an indoor agriculture lab. The conversion will tee up the program as those involved with the project can use that experience to teach students what it takes to retrofit existing spaces for agriculture. For example, the future indoor agriculture lab is across the hall from an auto maintenance lab so special attention has to be paid to air flow and filtration, just like in a real-life indoor cannabis environment, Lucas says.
“Those are things that are good lessons for students to understand how you can control the environment, which is a big part of why we all thought the inner collaboration of these different building systems plus plant growth is so important to understand so that you can retrofit different types of spaces.”
As part of the two-year program, students will learn how to develop and manage hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic systems, HVAC systems and sustainability, among other topics.
NMU does not anticipate any COVID-19 related delays in launching the program and expects to start its first semester in the Fall, Lucas says. “NMU will be commencing with face-to-face classes in August, and we are in the process of purchasing the equipment for the lab renovation,” he says.
NMU also is partnering with Greenflower, an online cannabis education platform, to offer cannabis certifications based on Greenflower’s educational curriculum.
“Essentially, it's a partnership where the school is offering the accreditation in terms of you get a certificate from NMU,” explains Greenflower CEO Max Simon. “You get the credibility that comes from being a part of the NMU alumni. But it's Greenflower content and technology that's powering the curriculums and our instructors that are leading the programs.”
There are four certificates being offered as part of this partnership:
“There's a very legitimate shortage of specialized workers that need to fill important roles throughout the cannabis supply chain,” Simon says. “It's the role of higher education to prepare people for high paying in demand jobs… I think it's a very exciting time because it's the start a new era in my mind where higher education really takes the cannabis industry seriously and provides the necessary education and training that's needed to fill the cannabis ecosystem with well-trained workers.”
Each certification includes three courses, Cannabis 101 and two additional curricula that relate directly to the field of study. Each course lasts eight weeks and can be built upon by completing the courses for each certificate program. The cost for each certification is $2,950.
For more information on the associate’s degree, visit https://www.nmu.edu/tos/indoor-agriculture, and for the certificate programs, visit https://nmu.edu/cannabisstudies.
卢卡斯现在是北密歇根大学( Northern Michigan University )教授，在北密歇根半岛( Upper Peninsula )工作，他把自己家族的农业背景与希望看到旧建筑转变为新用途的愿望结合起来，带头启动了该校新的印度农业项目。该项目为期两年，副学士学位的重点是室内大麻和食品生产。
与该校生物学系教授 Kim Smith 和 Donna Becker 合作， Lucas 在该校技术和职业科学系工作，他告诉《坎纳比斯商业时报》( Cannabis Business Times )：“我们创建了这种跨学科的方法，因为我们认为，在高等教育教学与行业需要之间，也需要建立一些联系。”该项目将植物科学、设施设计、创业精神和商业管理结合起来，为毕业生在室内农业各个方面的职业生涯做好准备。
卢卡斯说， NMU 预计 COVID-19项目的启动不会出现任何延迟，并预计将在秋季开学。“ NMU 将从8月份的面对面课程开始，我们正在购买实验室改造设备，”他说。
NMU 还与在线大麻教育平台 Greenflower 合作，提供基于 Greenflower 教育课程的大麻认证。
Greenflower 首席执行官马克斯•西蒙( Max Simon )解释道：“从本质上讲，这是一种合作关系，学校为你提供从 NMU 获得证书的认证。”“作为 NMU 校友的一部分，你获得了可信度。但是绿花的内容和技术为课程提供了动力，我们的导师也在领导课程。”
有关副学士学位的详细信息，请访问 https://www.nmu.edu/tos/indool-Agriculture ，并访问 https://nmu 。教育/大麻研究。