Two dedicated faculty members at HCT-Fujairah have been recognized for their efforts in establishing the Colleges’ flagship shade house project.
Bruce Gleason and Joseph Viker were presented with the coveted Nikai Faculty Award by His Excellency Sheikh Nayahan Mabarak Al Nayahan, Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research, and Chancellor Higher Colleges of Technology at the 24th HCT Annual Conference on September 10.
The award heralded the innovative approach taken by both men, not only in launching the project, but also by making it a sustainable and valuable educational tool enjoyed by so many students. Starting as a small student based research project in April 2009, the garden project swiftly became one of HCT-Fujairah’s prize ventures, generating interest amongst other HCT campuses in the UAE.
With environmental issues at the forefront of day-to-day life both globally and in the UAE, the shade house plays a crucial role in helping emphasize and raise awareness of key topics and broaden the educational experiences of so many students, particularly in terms of improving their English skills in preparation for their IELTS exams. Bachelor students experience the nature of cause and effect, and across the College students use their experiences in the shade house to understand responsibility and improve their time management and organizational skills.
The project uses a combination of square-foot gardening in raised beds and container growing under shade, utilizing compost (the project’s own) and companion planting techniques. Though primarily focused on growing vegetables and herbs, the project also grows some flowers and trees.
The shade house project will now move to the next stage of development with a goal of offering fresh organically grown vegetables and herbs to the community; seedlings for transplanting will also be available for sale. In addition, Year One Bachelor students will continue to grow and harvest during the academic year, with Year Two and Three business and accounting students creating the business infrastructure so that selling produce grown on campus can be undertaken on a weekly basis. The goal is to offer produce for sale once a week, on site, to all members of the community.
The huge progress made so far is manifested in the receipt of the award, and both Bruce and Joseph are thrilled at this tribute. “The award was a pleasant surprise, and it was excellent to have HCT-Fujairah recognized. Joseph and I are grateful for all the support we have had from the administration, staff and faculty at FWC; however, central to the project’s success and effectiveness are student enthusiasm and hard work,” Bruce Gleason said.
“We look forward to continuing the work with the students to develop this project in future as a model for sustainable experiential learning in the UAE,” Mr Viker said.
HCT-Fujairah Director Dr. Dave Pelham was equally excited at the prospect of further development of the project.
“Bruce and Joseph are wonderful examples of teachers who are always looking for new and innovative ways to improve the educational experiences of their students. The shade house project represents an innovative way to teach English, personal responsibility and raise students’ awareness of environmental issues,” he said.
“HCT-Fujairah is committed to providing excellent and innovative learning experiences for students and it hopes to build on the success of this project with others in the near future.”