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ASCC Student Support Services promote plantation skills for TRIO Day

Students receiving assistance from the Student Support Services (SSS) division at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) spent several hours during the President’s Day holiday learning basic plantation skills as part of TRIO Day, a nationwide activity during which the eight federally funded educational opportunity outreach programs that make up TRIO are encouraged to perform community services as a way to give back to their respective communities.
 
SSS Director Repeka Alaimoana-Nuusa explained that given American Samoa’s move towards modernization in most households, many of today’s youth have never had the experience of planting or harvesting food, so plantation activity represents a way of familiarizing students with the agricultural process as well as instilling respect for the natural environment.
 
“Most of us understandably want to appear upwardly-mobile nowadays,” said Alaimoana-Nuusa, “so an activity like plantation work is sometimes looked down upon, but we’d like our students to realize the connection between a healthy environment and healthy eating.”
 
Approximately six months ago, SSS students planted an abundant crop of manioka (also referred to as tapioca) in the SSS garden on the upper ASCC campus, which meant that many of the plants have reached the stage for harvesting. Monday’s activities included harvesting and cleaning the manioka root, planting new stalks, clearing overgrowth, and finally enjoying a lunch that included some of the manioka the students had just harvested.
 
The Federal TRIO Programs consist of eight federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Administered, funded, and implemented by the United States Department of Education, TRIO programs are targeted to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.
 
Of the programs under the TRIO umbrella, ASCC hosts Student Support Services, which follows the specific mandate of helping low-income and first-generation students, including those with disabilities, to succeed in and graduate from college. Participants receive tutoring, counseling, and remedial instruction in order to achieve their goals of college completion.
 
The SSS strives to increase the college retention and graduation rates of its participants and facilitate the process of transition from one level of higher education to the next. A fixture at ASCC for more than 20 years, the SSS is funded to serve 200 participants from the College Accelerated Preparatory Program (CAPP).
 
Besides Director Alaimoana-Nuusa, the SSS staff includes Counselor Hipa Neria, Retention Specialist Hope Ropeti, Lead Tutor Amber Fuaga and Administrative Assistant Charmaine Faleaana. Every semester, the SSS holds a New Student Orientation, during which they recruit participants from the CAPP population.
 
Once students successfully exit the CAPP program, these students are no longer active members of SSS, although the program will still assist and track them while at the college level. Eligible students must be US citizens or nationals, low Income and receiving financial aid, first generation college students within their family, and/or have a disability.
 
Since the program includes a public service component, in spring 2010, the SSS launched a plantation project in a lot behind the former faculty housing on the ASCC upper campus. The project aimed to, first, to provide an opportunity for participating SSS students to discover the numerous food resources available in American Samoa; second, to realize and value students’ contributions toward community collaborative efforts in food preservation; and third, to inspire young people to pursue career options in the field of agriculture.
 
The students gained experience in land preparation, farming methods, procedures and crop maintenance. SSS collaborated with the Land Grant Agriculture Extension Program in obtaining crops that are now grown on the plantation.
 
More information on the SSS and its services can be found at: http://www.amsamoa.edu/academicssupportsss.htm
 



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