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USDA Higher Education Challenge Grant

The Grant

The Van D. & Barbara B. Fishback Honors College was awarded the USDA NIFA Higher Education grant in 2013. This USDA grant has enabled our innovative approach to preparing current Honors students at South Dakota State University to ‘Meet the Grand Challenges.’ Innovative Honors curriculum and research opportunities enriched the student experience related to the grand challenges.  Additionally, students participated in a service-learning program offered in partnership with SDSU Extension and the Boys & Girls Clubs in Eastern South Dakota.


Interdisciplinary Honors Colloquia Related to Grand Challenge Priority Areas 

Colloquium Title
(Syllabi linked)

Semester & YearNumber of StudentsNumber of FacultyPartnering CollegesPriority Area
Energy: Present Realities, Future Possibilities
(452.8 KB)

Fall 2014


Fall 2016







Agriculture & Biological Sciences, Arts & Sciences, Engineering, HonorsSustainable Energy
Meeting the Grand Challenges
(598.26 KB)
Fall 2015243Agriculture & Biological Sciences, Education & Human Sciences, HonorsFood Security, Sustainable Energy, Climate Change, Food Safety, Obesity

Land Conservation Past, Present, and Future and its Potential Consequences

Fall 2016102Agriculture & Biological Sciences, Arts & SciencesSustainable Energy
(552.67 KB)
Fall 2016301Education & Human SciencesFood Security, Obesity, Food Safety
Propinquity of Humans and Animals
(564.55 KB)
Fall 2017251HonorsAgriculture, Leadership
Food Safety: Farm to Table
(131.63 KB)
Fall 2017143Agriculture & Biological SciencesFood Safety


Presentations for Dissemination of “Meeting the Grand Challenges” Project Results

Name of Conference & YearTitle of PresentationPresenter Names
National Collegiate Honors Conference 2015Energy: Present Realities, Future Possibilities

Timothy Nichols

Jacob Gubbrud

National Collegiate Honors Conference 2015Honors Collaborate to Meet the Grand Challenges

Timothy Nichols

Henry Goeden

Jacob Gubbrud

Upper Midwest Honors Conference 2016Honors Meets the Grand Challenges

Timothy Nichols

Jacob Gubbrud

North American College Teachers of Agriculture 2016Meeting the Grand Challenges

Timothy Nichols

Henry Goeden

Suzanne Stluka

North American College Teachers of Agriculture 2017Meeting the Grand Challenges: Undergraduates Embrace Land Grant Mission

Suzanne Stluka

Rachel K. Landmark

Timothy Nichols

Rebecca Bott


Honors Undergraduate Research in Grand Challenge Priority Areas

Priority AreaNumber of StudentsPartnering DepartmentResearch Projects
Climate Change2Agricultural Education, Agronomy, Horticulture & Plant ScienceHow South Dakota High School Agriculture Education Programs are Preparing Students to Meet the Biggest Challenges Facing the Agricultural Industry Today

The Effects of Graving Cover Crop Mixtures on Soil Respiration and Farm Profitability

Sustainable Energy6Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science, English, English, Agriculture and Bio-Systems Engineering, Agriculture Economics, Agronomy, Horticulture & Plant SciencePlasma-Activated Biochar Electrode for High Energy Super-Capacitor Tags: Energy Storage, Plasma Treatment, Super-Capacitors

SDSU's Renewable Energy Mobile Microgrid Lab

Natural Language Processing in Multilinear Narrative

Determining the Flowability and Storage Properties of Soybean Based Biomaterials Under Varying Conditions

Profitability and Yields of Alternative Oil Seed Crops

Developing a Computational Pipeline for High-Throughput Sequencing Data in Plant Genomes

Food Safety6Veterinary Science, Education & Human Sciences, Animal Science, Dairy/Food ScienceExamination of Gut Microbiota and Other Mucosal Colonizers through Culturomics

Mama's Against McDonald's: Impact on the Gut Microbiota and Metabolism of 2 Different Diets

Bulls Producing Semen with Poor Motility will Produce Different Types and Amounts of Proteins Relative to Bulls Producing Semen with High Motility

An Examination of Environmental Listeria's Antibiotic Resistance and Biofilm Persistence

Understanding the Role of Neutrophils in Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus (BVDV) Pathogenesis

A Comparison of Cydectin Injectable Wormer and Long Range Injectable Wormer

Food Security2Health & Nutritional SciencesCollection and Analysis of Focus Group Data to Inform and Measure the Efficacy of Multiple Social Media Based Educational Nutrition Interventions

Wellness Needs & Issues of First-Year College Students

Obesity3Health & Nutritional Sciences, Exercise ScienceExamining Environmental Factors Related to Obesity in Rural and Non-Rural Children

Effects of Cooking Classes on Freshmen Eating Behavior

The Efficacy of Improved Physical Activity and Decreased Sedentary Time in the Older Generation

Agriculture & Leadership3College of Agriculture & Biological Sciences, Animal Science, Agricultural EngineeringLeadership Qualities Employers Seek from South Dakota State University Students in the Hiring Process

Determining Docility in Cattle Via Infrared Readings of Eyeball Temperature

Effect of Farrowing Stall Size on Pre-wean Piglet Mortality


Honors students who complete two or more of these Grand Challenges colloquium and either the Boys and Girls Club Grand Challenges outreach internship or the Grand Challenges research experience will be recognized at the Medallion Ceremony for earning the Grand Challenges designation.