Steaming Towards the Future

Steaming Towards the Future

As our global population rises from 7 billion today to a startling 10 million by 2050, the agricultural community will experience increasing pressures to produce more food.  There are currently 23 million Americans living in food deserts – 6.5 million of them children! How are we going to provide sustenance domestically and across the globe? And how will we do it in a way that no longer harms the environment?

More data analysts and tools are needed to solve this life-threatening problem. Who will lead the way? It’s certain we will need young, bright individuals who are passionate about science and committed to sustainability.

To help steer young minds in the direction needed, Vulcan Enterprises has teamed up with two academic institutions to design and deliver a tuition-free Summer camp in 2018 for high-school students (ages 14-17) that focuses on using Open Data related to Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, and Math (STEAM). After five years in D.C., we have expanded to the West Coast and will be running the California STEAM camp for the second consecutive summer!


This two-week long project-based Summer camp will introduce

campers to United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) use of data for important decision making on topics such as food nutrition, safety & sustainability, forestry, and urban agriculture. There will be a special focus on effective and compelling ways to visualize data. Students will explore, analyze, and reconfigure quantitative and qualitative data, using fundamental graphical principles to present their findings. Assigned projects incorporate actual USDA-provided data sets as well as original research to focus on issues of urban agriculture, urban forestry, and food nutrition.

The program is the brainchild of Joyce Hunter, USDA’s former Deputy CIO for Policy and Planning and the current CEO of Vulcan Enterprises LLC. She recognizes that, in the future, agricultural work will depend on data mastery. Joyce has consistently been a strong voice of support, encouraging students across the country to take advantage of experience-driven learning opportunities — developing an interest (as well as confidence) in working with data. Her guiding principle is simple: if such interest, excitement, and confidence can be kindled, it is more likely they will make academic, and even career choices, focused on data analysis and agriculture.

On-site faculty will provide ready guidance on the kinds of questions that can be addressed with data, the challenges of gathering data through interviews and surveys, and on techniques for presenting compelling arguments based on data. All students will have the opportunity to work extensively with Excel, Tableau, Illustrator, and ESRI’s Collector application for creating GIS maps.

Vulcan Enterprises LLC is committed to educating the future workforce on the mission of USDA and how USDA utilizes a variety of data to facilitate its decision-making processes. As enthusiasm for the STEAM camp initiative grows, Vulcan Enterprises continues to form meaningful partnerships with academic institutions and technology companies to ensure underserved youth can take part in this incredible opportunity free of charge.

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