UOG and College of Micronesia make new connections in agricultural education

UOG and College of Micronesia make new connections in agricultural education

UOG and College of Micronesia make new connections in agricultural education

University of Guam faculty and students from the Agriculture & Life Sciences Division visit a farm in one of Yap’s atoll communities in March 2024.
Photo of a farm tour in Yap
Mark Googag (right), an agriculture extension agent and acting coordinator for Cooperative Research & Extension at the College of Micronesia-FSM in Yap, explains the agricultural practices of a Yapese farmer to a University of Guam delegation on a Yap farm in March 2024.
Photo of a person in a taro field
Chloe Santos, a third-year agriculture student at UOG, tours a taro field during a March trip to Yap to build connections in agricultural education.
Photo of a person using a virtual reality headset in a classroom
Agriculture students at the College of Micronesia–FSM in Yap experience operating farm equipment using a virtual reality headset.

New seeds in agricultural education exchange have been sown following a connection-building trip by the University of Guam to the Micronesian island of Yap from March 17–23. The UOG cohort included Agriculture & Life Sciences Division faculty members and students who connected with educators and students at two high schools and the College of Micronesia – Federated States of Micronesia (COM-FSM) in Yap.

Photo of two people examining a clamThe trip was possible through the initiatives of two USDA-funded grants — one led by Dr. Mari Marutani with the goal of re-establishing linkages between UOG’s and the College of Micronesia’s agriculture education programs and providing hands-on learning opportunities for both students and faculty. Another grant project, led by Dr. Kuan-ju Chen, is working to integrate innovative technologies, like virtual reality, into agricultural education in the Pacific islands to increase experiential learning in sustainable agriculture. Both programs ultimately aim to inspire and prepare students in the region for academic and career paths in agriculture and food science.

Photo of a person demonstrating a virtual reality headset in front of a classroom The UOG team visited Yap High School, Yap Catholic High School, and the College of Micronesia-FSM, presenting to 50 students and some 20 instructors and staff. The aim of the presentation was two-fold: first, to spark a curiosity in students toward agricultural studies, whether at UOG or in general, by introducing them to innovative applications. The team brought Virtual Reality Technology (VRT) headsets to demonstrate how students can “experience” the latest farm equipment and practices. 

“Learning and having fun should be interchangeable,” said Kaelan Joseph Arciaga, a senior agriculture major at UOG who assisted with the VRT demonstrations. “Virtual reality education is really interesting and provides learning opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be possible in smaller island communities due to cost.”

Second, the presentations sought to establish new connections between UOG and COM-FSM to exchange knowledge and enhance agricultural learning for students region-wide.

“We observed a genuine curiosity and enthusiasm among the students,” Chen said. “Several students expressed interest in learning more about modern agricultural practices, sustainability, and the use of technology in farming. Additionally, some actively participated in hands-on activities related to agriculture, demonstrating a keen interest in exploring the field further.”

The trip resulted in new relationships with educators in Yap as well as agreements to exchange knowledge and resources and to collaborate on curriculum development. There are also plans to develop training sessions on VRT utilization in the classroom and to embark on joint research projects to explore the applications of VRT in agricultural education.