TCL receives National Science Foundation grant for agriscience biotechnology program

Thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation, the Technical College of the Lowcountry will begin offering courses in the rapidly advancing field of agriscience – a field of study that combines science and agriculture to enhance the production of plants, animals, and other related products.

TCL recently received a $199,200 Advanced Technological Education grant from the NSF to develop an agriscience biotechnology certificate program.  

“The agriscience industry expects a proficient workforce in South Carolina and needs workers who know basic laboratory procedures coupled with technical communications and analytical skills,” biology instructor Dr. Natavia Middleton said. “The agriscience industry will be one of the economic growth engines of the coming decades.”

Agricultural production potential is excellent in South Carolina.  The agriculture industry has a large impact on the economy in South Carolina generating almost $10 billion a year.  Including indirect impacts, the agriculture industry totals almost $16.8 billion a year.  The labor income is substantial as well generating $1.7 billion in direct labor income and almost $3.5 billion in total labor income.  This income supports over 61,000 jobs a year and with another 55,000 jobs indirectly, totals 115,645 jobs.

Biotechnology plays an important role in food and agriculture production.  The use of technology with crops and animals is expected to be a critical factor in future efforts to increase crop yields and to expand food production.  TCL’s experientially rich, cross-discipline courses in the agriscience certificate program will allow students to attend part time or fulltime. Upon graduation, they will be able to seek employment or continue their education. The program also will allow high school students to be exposed to agriscience and begin taking agriscience college courses while still in high school.

In addition, the grant will allow TCL to:

· Hold community information and seminars/workshops in TCL’s four-county service region that includes Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties.

· Host agriscience learning activities for high school students.

· Hold seminars and workshops on agriscience biotechnology at the Beaufort and New River campus labs for area high school teachers to provide hands-on-laboratory activities. This will increase awareness and implementation of agriscience into high school biology curriculum.

· Increase awareness of agriscience for area farmers and other agriculture- based businesses.

The agriscience classes will be offered in a new biotechnology lab that was renovated and outfitted with funding from a 2010 Department of Education Predominantly Black Institution grant.

The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense. NSF is the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

For more information, please contact Natavia Middleton at or 843-470-5964.