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Colorado State University Pueblo Receives Grant Award from USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to Advance Industrial Hemp Education

Release Date: October 05, 2020

Haley Sue Robinson

Director of Communications/PIO

Marketing, Communications & Community Relations

(719) 549-2284


Colorado State University Pueblo received $275,000 in grant funding from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) program for the development of the Industrial Hemp Education, Agriculture and Research (InHEAR) program. InHEAR specifically addresses needs of education in the area of biology and chemistry with a focus primarily on Hispanic students, which greatly impacts CSU Pueblo as a Hispanic Serving Institution. CSU Pueblo is the only HSI in the state of Colorado to receive this award in 2020.

“This degree offering is focused primarily on hemp agriculture and allows CSU Pueblo to develop coursework and then for students to participate in research,” said Jonathan Velasco, assistant professor of chemistry at CSU Pueblo and primary author of the NIFA grant and lead researcher for the InHEAR program. “We have some partners within the local area and within the state of Colorado, which provides us the ability to place our students with these businesses for future internships.”

CSU Pueblo began offering a bachelor of science in Cannabis Biology and Chemistry (CBC) in fall of 2020 and with this grant award, the degree offering can be expanded to an emphasis in hemp agriculture beginning in fall 2021. Industrial hemp education compliments the newly launched CBC degree and benefits from the support of the Institute of Cannabis Research, which is hosted on the CSU Pueblo campus. The partnership with the ICR provides opportunity for hands on learning and research students can apply to their professional career.

The InHEAR program supports the future careers of students which also aids to the economic development within Pueblo, southern Colorado and the rest of the state as industrial hemp agriculture is on the rise since the 2018 Farm Bill. This degree emphasis area allowed CSU Pueblo to expand into agricultural specific programs, which addresses the economic need in the southern Colorado region.

CSU Pueblo received strong support at the state level from the Colorado Department of Agriculture. "The leadership shown by CSU Pueblo in creating an educational program dedicated to Colorado's rapidly growing and promising industrial hemp industry is a clear indication of the University's vision and commitment to both the future of its students and to the future of agriculture in our state," said Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture, Kate Greenberg.

InHEAR provides hands on learning and research experience which then translates to students expanding their network during their undergraduate coursework.Those networked relationships then provide opportunity for careers within industry.

The CEO and President of Pueblo Department of Economic Development Corporation, Jeff Shaw explained the impact of the grant award for the great Pueblo community and CSU Pueblo. “As we anticipate the continual rise of industrial hemp agriculture, to have the ability to support the workforce infrastructure will greatly benefit our region and the growing need for additional science in this industry.” This will give students hands on ability to do research and work in the field which translates to them possessing necessary experiences in a career. “Then hopefully this is a desire for students to continue to serve our Pueblo community upon graduation,” said Shaw.

Some of the internships offered with the support of the InHEAR grant will allow for students to take part of other opportunities with the cannabis plant, which shows more of the supply chain aspect of hemp. Students are able to choose either research or an internship to fulfill the requirement toward degree. InHEAR will also track students’ post-graduate work whether it be in the field of industrial hemp agriculture or graduate research.

For more information about the InHEAR program, contact Jonathan Velasco at To learn more about the Cannabis Biology Chemistry degree, visit the program page.

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