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Two students in lab

Research connects students with community

Summer research projects are more than an opportunity for Yakima Valley College students to develop the hands-on, practical skills they’ll use in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers. They also allow students to make a difference in the community.

During the summer of 2022, 19 YVC students engaged in a research projects with a variety of community partners — involving work both in the lab and in the field.

Aspen Scott, one of those student researchers, participated in a project comparing soil fertility and nematode numbers in organic and conventional Honeycrisp apple orchards.

He said the impact of that research was more personal because it was taking place in the community and he was able to develop relationships with people running the orchard where the research team did its work.

“It’s a different sort of feeling that, you know, this is my community,” Scott said. “This is the county that I grew up in. These are the people that I know and have been raised with. And this is how [the research] is going to impact them.”

“I love entomology and I love getting to know all the insects that you don’t usually look at very closely.” Emily Hinze

Researcher Emily Hinze, who worked on project surveying pollinators in various locations around Yakima, also noted her desire to make a local impact through research.

“I love entomology and I love getting to know all the insects that you don’t usually look at very closely,” Hinze said. “I want to make a difference in the environment, even if it’s a small difference such as surveying the bees in our community for future projects.”

Among the other research projects that took place this past summer, YVC students:

  • Analyzed soil and water samples from the Yakima Valley to seek out new antibiotics in local environments as part of an international research project to address the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • Investigated college students’ financial literacy needs as well as created a financial literacy lesson plan for use at YVC.
  • Studied the mass trapping of earwigs in stone fruit orchards in conjunction with the possibility of moving captured earwigs into apple and pear orchards where they are beneficial.

Since 2012, nearly 250 YVC students have participated in STEM research.