About the EARTH Program

U.S. Virgin Islands Gardens

Since 2010, the Iowa State University (ISU) EARTH Program has been offering significant, high-impact activities for education, outreach, and research on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. The ISU EARTH Program is anchored by a commitment to Iowa State University students and U.S. Virgin Islands communities and embraces the opportunity to create high-quality, inclusive educational programs.

The guiding vision of the ISU EARTH Program is to educate Iowa State University students, as tomorrow’s leaders and innovative problem solvers, and assist U.S. Virgin Island communities to improve lives and sustain the environment. The mission of the ISU EARTH Program is to educate Iowa State University students and the U.S. Virgin Island students and communities about topics of agriculture, food, natural resources, and the environment while creating inspiring educational programs and demonstrations that benefit the U.S. Virgin Islands, Iowa, and the world.

The Earth Program is based at the Iowa State University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ residential center Fork In The Road Station, on St. John.

The ISU EARTH Program accomplishes its mission using the foundation of the Land-Grant mission of ISU, with efforts focused on teaching, extension and outreach, and research:

U.S. Virgin Islands Regional Activities

  • The ISU EARTH Program hosts service-learning interns from ISU and the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI). Through the ISU EARTH Program, ISU students travel to St. John in summer, spring, or fall semesters and live, work, and provide service to local communities. ISU students are actively involved with education, horticulture, agriculture, food, natural resources, and environmental projects in the community, and incorporate their various disciplines to communicate about and contribute to resource systems practices. Students gain an understanding of multiple resource constraints with various impacts for an island, education, sustainability of human and ecosystem interactions, and the contributions of U.S. Virgin Islanders in the culture of the United States.
  • Graduate students are engaged in the program with research topics to benefit the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean region. Recent research projects include food safety education, land use history, forest species and invasive plant ecology, native plant propagation and seed germination for shoreline restoration. Faculty, in collaboration with local partners, presently are involved in expanding and growing research and outreach opportunities on St. John.

The ISU EARTH Program has cultivated relationships with more than 10 partners and organizations in the community. Local partners include UVI, National Park Service, Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park, Gifft Hill School, Island Green Living Association (IGLA), St. John Catholic Charities, St. John Community Foundation, St. John Historical Society, and additional projects at a local library and schools. The future of the ISU EARTH Program is promising and bright. We look forward to continuing our work to increase knowledge of food, agriculture, natural resources, and the environment in the U.S. Virgin Islands; establish and grow educational programs for university students, K-12 students, and the U.S. Virgin Islands communities; increase equity and inclusion of diverse and underrepresented populations; and continue to provide sustainable, high-impact educational programs.