Sustainability Institute

Sustainability Institute

Grape Harvest Festival

Event Details:

  • Date: August - 27 2016 
  • Venue: Viticulture Center - 6505 Mahan Dr

Grape Harvest Festival 2016 email

Join us at the 16th Annual Grape Harvest Festival on Saturday, August 27, from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. With this year’s theme Purple Reign, the festival is expected to draw more than 3,000 participants and will be held at the FAMU Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit Research, located at 6505 Mahan Drive in Tallahassee.

Celebrate family, food, fun, and agricultural discovery in recognition of FAMU’s role as a national leader in viticulture research. Featured activities include the popular grape stomping contest, a kids petting zoo, water slides, a grape throwing competition, a grape and wine sampling, a hula hoop competition, live entertainment, the 5K/2K vineyard run and walk-a-thon, grape picking, a health fair, and more than 60 community exhibitors and vendors.

In addition to the various family-friendly activities, participants will have an opportunity to tour more than 45 acres of the University’s premier muscadine grape vineyard.

The event will be hosted by FAMU President Elmira Mangum, Ph.D.; Mayor Andrew Gillum; and Dean of the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences Robert Taylor, Ph.D.

On-site registration is $6 for adults, free for children under 12, free for FAMU students with ID, and $3 for non-FAMU students with ID.





Student Researcher Investigates Exposure to Red Tide from Seafood

Red tide is an unpleasant but regularly occurring phenomenon along coastlines, including Florida’s Gulf Coast. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Environmental Science Ph.D. Candidate Krystal Pree is working to find out the extent to which people who harvest fish and shellfish along the coast are aware of and exposed to toxins associated with “red tides.”

taking samples2

Ms. Pree’s work at FAMU is supported under a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Educational Partnership Program.

Florida red tides occur annually throughout the Gulf of Mexico due to blooms from the particular marine microorganism called Karenia brevis, but it is only one of various types of harmful algal blooms (HABs) that occur in Florida, Pree explains. At high concentrations, red tides can cause the water to become discolored with a red pigmentation, but depending on the type of algae present, the water can also be brown, green or even yellow. K. brevis is one of the most serious HABs in Florida because it produces toxins called brevetoxins that have a detrimental effect on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds.

People who are exposed may suffer from skin irritation, burning eyes and respiratory problems. Toxins produced by harmful algal blooms that create red tides do not lose their toxicity when fish or shellfish is cooked, so people who consume contaminated shellfish can experience Neurotoxic Shellfish Poisoning (NSP). Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, lack of motor coordination, and tingling of fingers or toes.

Ms. Pree’s research seeks to further understanding about how people engaged in recreational fishing and shellfish harvesting become aware of occasions when incidents of red tide take place. Using interviews and surveys, Ms. Pree is looking to discover more about how fishers’ knowledge, beliefs, experiences, purpose for fishing, and characteristics may play a role in their exposure when harmful algal blooms prompt closures of recreational shellfish harvesting areas.

Pree’s research investigates whether NSP is misdiagnosed and under-reported. Her findings could help devise ways to better inform residents and tourists in the future so that they can avoid being sickened. Pree is also researching whether certain population sub-groups may be more at risk to exposure than others. Her research is based in in southwest Florida’s Lee County. sifting samples2

Pree believes that if there are more surveys conducted to understand the interactions between humans and the environment, as well as background knowledge provided to residents, then the risks of exposure could be decreased. Her project fits within a broader desire to focus her talents upon creating healthier environments, especially for low-income and minority communities.

“Ultimately, I’m seeking to improve awareness about environmental contamination and natural resource issues, particularly those affecting low-income and minority communities” Pree explains.

Pree delivered a poster presentation about her work at the Association for Environmental Sciences and Studies (AESS) Conference at American University in Washington, D.C., June 8-11. Her future career goals include environmental consulting, compliance and monitoring as well as teaching and mentoring at the University level.





Viticulture Center Helps Invigorate Muscadine Wine Industry

FAMU’s Viticulture Center is famous for its annual Grape Harvest Festival, taking place this Saturday and open to the community (find out more about the day’s festivities here). This year’s festival features celebrity hosts FAMU President Elmira Mangum and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and marks 38 years of operation for the center. While the fun of stomping grapes captures much attention, the science of what goes into making those grapes is what drives the Viticulture Center’s mission. Work at the center is pioneering tastier versions of table and wine grapes derived from native American muscadine grapes, helping to grow Florida’s growing wine industry and to playing a role in improving sustainability of the wine industry globally.

vit vineyardFormally called the Center for Viticulture and Small Fruits Research, it is the only specialized academic center on grape research in the Southeastern US. It is charged with conducting basic and applied research and providing service to promote the development of a viable viticulture industry in Florida. According to the Florida Wine and Grape Growers Association, there are 24 certified wineries in Florida, covering 500 acres, and producing slightly under 2 million gallons of wine.

Research at the site on the eastern fringes of Tallahassee takes place in the 44-acre vineyard and in a set of well-equipped laboratories. Work includes traditional breeding methods for plant selection along with high-tech biotechnology and in-vitro selection, according to director Dr. Violeta Tsolova. A mix of science and art create variations in grapes and wines that are produced, with a surprising range of flavors. Decisions at various points in the production process lead to variations in tastes.

Mr. Matteo Voltarelli, a wine maker from Italy who has brought his expertise to the center, notes that in wine making in particular, good results come “mostly of decisions, timely decisions!”

grapetastingBesides developing new and improved grape cultivars, work at the center includes devising best management practices for Florida grapes and selected small fruit. The Center maintains a “National Clean Plant Center” for grapes by growing native hybrids free of diseases that could harm crops. Twenty-three varieties of economically important hybrid varieties of muscadine and other native grapes are grown and certified to be free of disease.

In addition to breeding efforts, researchers have their eyes on the potential contributions that disease-tolerant native grapes might have to the global wine industry as a whole. Genetic resources from native grapes including muscadines may be incorporated to boost capacity of conventional grapes for resisting disease and adapting to climate change.

studentsViticultureLabAlready the center has drawn international interest from international partners and exchange faculty and students from China, Brazil, France, Israel, Italy, Austria, and Germany. Students from high school through graduate students also receive hands-on science training at the center, working under the tutelage of research scientists in the lab and in the field. In the past five years, 14 graduate and 22 undergraduate student researchers have taken part, making the center a productive locale for boosting STEM education.




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Eco-Classroom Will Create a New Campus Hangout

Thanks to a phenomenal show of energy and enthusiasm from students, alumni and friends from all over the nation, Rattler pride beat out the competition in this year's national Retool Your School Contest! Florida A&M University won the $30,000 Campus Pride Award, awarded to the school with the most online votes and social media activity.

RYS16 newsletterThe award will help fund FAMU’s proposal to create an outdoor 'eco-classroom' adjacent to the campus recycling center, located across from FAMU Village. Sponsored by Home Depot, the funding will pay for  materials that will be used to convert the current stark concrete pad into an cool new environmentally friendly space for students to gather, relax, and learn.

The design and construction of the eco-classroom is envisioned as a campus wide project, from Engineering and Architecture students helping to design custom seating and shading structures, to Agriculture and Food Science students helping to create a teaching garden, to artists bringing the space to life.

The eco-classroom will provide a space for organized hands-on activities as well as a great place to just hang out. The possibilities for this flexible space will expand as it becomes part of campus life. Follow the action and get involved as the FAMU Eco-classroom comes to life over the summer and fall. Online and on social media 


A Green Economy For All

Julian McQueen is optimistic about the rapidly expanding green economy, and his mission is to expand its opportunities to all.

McQueen, Director of Education and Outreach for the California-based Green For All, and external advisory board member for the Sustainability Institute, shared ideas for how slowing down carbon emissions is creating green jobs during a recent visit to Tallahassee. He noted that jobs related to solar energy are increasing at 12 times the rate of overall job creation.

green for all news"There's talent, and we're leaving it on the table," McQueen said, noting that access to opportunities is a key issue. He said people need to find ways the natural and built environments and people in them--in all communities--can thrive.

Quoting Green for All founder Van Jones, McQueen said, "Are we going to turn against each other or toward each other?" With all our fates tied together, he holds the positive view. "I think we will turn toward each other."

The burgeoning green economy is a multi-billion dollar reality, and with the right approach, new wealth and opportunity can be shared widely. His work and that of Green For All is to advocate for equal access to green entrepreneurship to capture talent and expand the reach of beneficial green projects into more communities.

In California, where a “cap and trade” program is in effect to fund pollution reduction programs, one-quarter of funds are earmarked for spending in communities most affected by pollution. Over the past two years, around $1 billion has been spend to reduce pollution in these communities, including through installation of solar panels on 5,000 low-income homes for a charge of $5 a month and distribution of free bus passes.

McQueen described hard-struck communities as “hotbeds of resilience” because residents are adept at ingeniously coping with difficult circumstances. What’s needed is a way to link ingenuity to opportunity.

Green For All nurtures upcoming green leaders through leadership development programs. One example is a “Green the Church” program, which helps church members find ways to improve their lives, their environments, and their community together. For more on Green For All's work to create green jobs, read here.

As a member of the SI’s advisory board, Mr. McQueen will be helping Florida A&M to develop ideas for enhancing leadership and opportunities for students. Stay tuned for future developments. FAMU is fortunate to have such an energetic visionary helping to train the next generation of leaders.


Celebrate Earth Week 2016 With Campus-wide Programming

April 18-24th is Earth Week at FAMU! Join the celebration with a series of engaging programs including the highly anticipated culminating with the 2nd annual Earth Day Festival on the Quad, Friday April 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Visit for details.

Brought to you by The Sustainability Institute, Green Coalition, College of Agriculture & Food Sciences - Small Farmers Program, Collaborative Arts Project, School of Social Sciences Art & Humanities – Political Science Department, School of the Environment, Ashe Indie Fest, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.-Beta Nu Chapter, SGA and OSA’s Set Friday.


Earth Week 2016

Event Details:

  • Date: April 18 - 24 2016 
  • Venue: On campus & around town


April 22nd, 2016 is the 46th International Earth Day. The entire FAMU campus will be celebrating with a week of events hosted by various departments. 

EW2016 poster

Monday April 18,3-5pm - Poisoned Waters: Flint Michigan and the Quest for Environmental Justice and Accountability. Expert panelists, attorneys and environmental activists discuss the dire effects of lead-contaminated water. FAMU Law School - Room 263.

Tuesday, April 19, 3pm - Reflections on Sustainability in Cuba: Student Documentaries. Black Archives Auditorium. Hosted by the Political Science department, School of Social Sciences Arts, and Humanities.

Wednesday, April 20, 12pm - Art of Sustainability Mural Reveal at the Campus Recycling Center, 644 Gamble Street (across from FAMU Village). Come out to see the student designed, collaborative art mural designed. Drinks & light hors d'oeuvres will be served.

Thursday, April 21, 6pm - Power Dialogue is a forum to generate discussion on EPA’s Clean Energy Plan amongst interested parties. This event is a collaboration between the School of the Environment and the STEM Public Policy Forum, and is open to the public. FSH Science Research Bld Auditorium – Rm 214

Friday, April 22, 10 am to 2 pm - Second annual FAMU Earth Day Festival on the Quad. Celebrate the last day of classes with fun in the sun as we learn, make, and play. Featuring campus and community exhibitors, hands-on activities, live performances, games and prizes.  Individuals,  organizations and departments are invited to participate in the Green Festival as vendors,  exhibitors or performers. Tables, chairs and publicity provided. Share your exciting sustainability related work or bring your engaging ideas and activities for attendees. Co-sponsored with the Green Coalition, Beta Nu chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and OSA's Set Friday. Music by DJ Ashé.

Friday, April 22, 2 p.m. - Join the School of Environment 'Under the Solar Umbrellas' at FSH Science Research Building South Entrance to get a first hand look at the new solar charging stations and learn from expert faculty about renewable energy.

Saturday, April 23, 3:30pm – Feast with a Farmer. FAMU Small Farms Program is bringing growing guru Jim Gerritsen, to speak on agroecology and organic farming systems. Indigo Bistro Tickets are $25 and in limited supply. Click here for tickets and details. Co-sponsored with Sustainable Tallahassee.

Sunday, April 24, 11am-1pm - Ashe Indie Festival Brunch featuring a presentation by DOMI Ventures on sustainable business and a screening of "The Coconut Revolution." B.L. Perry Hall. To participate, purchase a ticket for $7 here.


“Unity in Recycling” is the Goal for Student Recycling Coordinator

Dominique Dantley has been environmentally conscious since his childhood, spent growing up in Ft. Myers, Florida. He believes that taking care of our surroundings is a necessary part of living a good life, both for current generations and future ones. A creative and passionate advocate for recycling and sustainability broadly, Dominique has found a perfect niche on the FAMU campus, working as the lead recycling intern for FAMU’s budding recycling program.

A senior who is majoring in Political Science with a minor in Public Affairs, Mr. Dantley is pleased about the eagerness of students, staff, and faculty to recycle and just wants to see the interest continue to snowball.

Campus recycling picked up steam last spring with the opening of a small recycling center off Gamble Street. Efforts now are focused on collection of office paper, cardboard, and plastic, with future goals to increase amounts of those items as well as expand collection of aluminum and possibly glass. Recently, a large roll-off bin was installed to enhance opportunities for collection of cardboard, a valuable item.

As the recycling coordinator, Dominique makes sure recycling bins are properly placed and maintained and that the marketable paper, plastic, and cardboard are sorted and prepared for sale to a local buyer of recyclables. He coordinates with the other student recycling interns to keep up with the growing number of recycling containers around campus. He also conducts regular brainstorming sessions with the other interns to come up with fresh ideas to encourage wider participation.

dantley and PhylesiaA recent campaign targeted at FAMU Village invited students to “Adopt a Smurf,” which is Dominique’s nickname for the blue 3-gallon containers that are now in almost every dorm room at FAMU Village. The campaign has taken hold with students, who routinely help out by taking their filled bins to the campus Recycling Center off Gamble Street, conveniently located across the street from FAMU Village.

The start-up recycling program is less than a year old and operates on a lean budget and limited schedule. However, with the dedication and enthusiasm of campus champions including students like Dominique and the other dedicated recycling interns, the future of recycling on campus is very bright.

“Unity in recycling is necessary,” he says. “It has to be a campus effort—it can’t just be some individuals and departments.” Dominique is hopeful that the recycling effort will continue to gather greater volumes of materials and to handle a wider variety of items. He invites campus members with questions about recycling to contact FAMU Recycling at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or to call 599-3442. Students who want to gain volunteer hours assisting in recycling can sign up to in various capacities, including working at sporting events.

For more information about FAMU recycling, which is operated by FAMU’s Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) department click here.







Art of Sustainability Exhibition & Reception

Event Details:

  • Date: Nov 2-19 2015 9am - 5pm
  • Venue: School of Architecture Gallery, College Engineering Atrium, Recycling Center


A Campus-wide Art Exhibition 

November 2 - 19, 2015

Check out all three gallery locations!

School of Architecture Gallery | College of Engineering Atrium | Recycling Center [644 Gamble Way]

Awards Reception 6pm Friday, November 13, 2015

at the School of Architecture Gallery

The Art of Sustainability initiative recognizes the interdisciplinary nature of re-imagining and achieving ecological balance using art to disrupt silos. The initiative hopes to inspire collaborative, co-creations that bridge art, science and technology and add richness to the global discourse on sustainability. This year's themes invited artistic expressions around Climate Change, Climate Justice and Community Resilience. Three-dimensional creations also explored innovative use of recycled materials to make "Tinker Toys & Robots" from aluminum cans, "Chandeliers" from plastic bottles and "Fashion Swag" wearables from cardboard and paper. This first ever exhibition is not only a celebration of art, but it also provides a glimpse into the world of possibilities when we approach the toughest global challenges creatively. 

Congratulations to the more than one hundred student, faculty, staff and community participants contributing to this inaugural year exhibition!



Lunch & Learn: Campus as a Living Lab

Event Details:

  • Date: Oct 21 2015 11:30 pm - 1:00 pm
  • Venue: Teaching & Learning Center [444 Gamble St - Rm 212]


Bring your own lunch. Dessert & Drinks will be served!

Looking for ways to bring more hands on learning experiences into your classroom? The physical campus can be your living laboratory! Learn strategies and approaches to systematically linking sustainable campus operations with coursework in order to create win-win, solutions driven and applied research projects.  The workshop will present best practices, explore case studies and facilitate active dialogue to develop your own models.

Open to all faculty.

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Sustainability @ FAMU

Sustainability at Florida A&M University is about the teaching, research and application of environmental and resource stewardship so people and planet prosper. The Sustainability Institute serves as the hub of all sustainability-related efforts at the university, bringing students, staff, faculty and the community together around creative collaborations.

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