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Diversity and Excellence in Food, Environment and Natural-resource Disciplines (DEFEND)

A National Science Foundation S-STEM Grant Opportunity


The DEFEND S-STEM scholars will focus on four high in-demand majors Animal Bio-Health Sciences, Food Science, Environmental Science, and Forestry. The objectives include: 1) Increasing degree attainment of students through participation in a "Summer Melt" Scholarship Program for competitively selected high school graduates; 2) Offering curricular and co-curricular activities to increase student success by engaging with institutional support services/ enrichment activities; 3) Using Technology for Student Evaluation and Program Assessment through a three-tier system of Service, Engagement and Learning.

DEFEND scholars will have access to seminars, workshops (academic advising, tutorial assistance, financial counseling), field and laboratory visits, and social and leisure activities and the opportunity to be trained and mentored in independent research and training labs (e.g., soil microbiology, food science, forestry, wildlife, soil science, genomics, GIS).

Faculty members with extensive experience from highly employable fields of food, environmental and natural resource sciences will serve as advisors and mentors.  This initiative has the potential to increase retention and graduation rates in STEM programs at Alabama A&M University (AAMU) through scholarships and impactful mentoring.

Emphasis placed on, but not limited to, Alabama’s lowest income Black-belt high schools sharpens the program’s focus to extend educational opportunity beyond the mainstream even within underrepresented communities.


  • Must be a citizen or legal resident of the United States
  • High School Diploma
  • Need-Based
  • Acceptance to AAMU or a Community College
  • GPA 2.75 or above
  • ACT 20 or above or SAT 1000 or above
  • Interest in Environmental Science/Environmental Health; Forestry; Food Science; Animal Bio-Health Science, Biology, non-medical


  • Includes tuition, travel and room and board for Mini Summer Session July 2022 (for those students transitioning from high school immediately to AAMU)
  • 1st year: $3,250 each semester
  • 2nd- 4th year: $10,000/year
  • Community College students: total $6,000 for two years and total $10,000 for two years after transferring to AAMU
  • Travel to professional meetings available


  • Complete application through Google docs:    
  • Personal Statement should include future education and career goals, expectations of the scholarship program, and how they are related to topics in food, agriculture, forestry, and environmental sciences.
  • Transcript from high school or 2-year college
  • Two letters of recommendation from high school counselor (required), teachers (high school senior); academic advisor (required), faculty (2-year college student)

Two letters of recommendation (sent only by recommenders) should be sent to Dr. Elica M. Moss at