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High School Students Graduate NY Sun Works-Developed Professional Certification Program in Hydroponic Farming

August 18, 2022

NY Sun Works is excited to announce the graduation of the first group of students from its high school certification program in Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA). As of Friday, August 12th, 32 students from Brooklyn’s High School for Innovation in Advertising & Media, East Brooklyn Community High School, and the Thomas Edison CTE High School in Queens completed training in seed-to-harvest hydroponic farming and career readiness. These certification programs provide students with valuable skills that prepare them for entry into the workforce as hydroponic farming technicians or for post-secondary study. 

NY Sun Works developed the program, which is the first of its kind in NYC, with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and implemented it in collaboration with the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). The program addresses the need for youth workforce development programs, especially for students in underserved communities, and helps build a pipeline of skilled workers in hydroponic farming, a growing green industry in NYC and other urban areas. “Giving students hands-on opportunities with hydroponics is critical to improve their physical health, mental wellbeing, and career readiness,” said Mayor Adams. “As Brooklyn borough president, I was proud to fund the creation of 70 hydroponics labs in schools to teach our children where their foods comes from. Through this certification program, students will be prepared for jobs in growing industries, and can enjoy the fruits of their labor.”

The program was held in each of the high school’s hydroponic classrooms, which are installed and maintained by NY Sun Works. With instruction provided by NY Sun Works hydroponic specialists and high school science teachers, students learned how to operate and assemble hydroponic systems; how the systems distribute nutrients to plant life; and built familiarity with standard troubleshooting techniques. Additionally, students gained key experience in managing water quality, performing nutrient testing and solving nutrient deficiency, and implementing pest prevention. Over the course of their six-week program, the students also completed routine practical assessments pertaining to these skills to ensure their certification prepared them for their graduation. 

Students were paid during their training through support from SYEP at the High School for Innovation in Advertising & Media and East Brooklyn Community High School, and the Summer Design Institute at Thomas Edison CTE High School. “At its best, SYEP presents youth with opportunities to explore potential career paths, strengthen overall work readiness, and build specific skills that employers value,” said David Fischer, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Youth Employment. “NY Sun Works’ Controlled Environment Agriculture certification program delivers on all three fronts. Beyond providing youth a great experience, CEA helps position them for a range of future paths in education and the workforce.”

NY Sun Works strives to address both professional and educational needs in areas such as urban farming, sustainability, and environmental science through initiatives like the CEA Certification. Says Manuela Zamora, the organization’s Executive Director, “Engaging students in their formative years with hands-on science learning provides opportunities for both social-emotional development and professional growth. These are especially important for communities that have been historically underserved, and it is one of the many ways NY Sun Works continues to effect change where it’s needed most.”


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