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US (IL): How hydroponics is inspiring the next generation of students in agriculture

Food insecurity has been an ongoing battle in Chicago and will only worsen if action is not taken to restructure our farming practices in the wake of our changing climate. Thankfully, Loyola, through its Urban Agriculture program, is looking ahead to remedy this issue before its effects are felt.

Loyola senior Bailey Uttich (22) is the Hydroponics System Manager in the Urban Ag program, and through her combination of majors and minors, she hopes to build community involvement and interest in environmental issues. Uttich, an environmental studies major with minors in Spanish and studio art, came from Dallas and became passionate about sustainability after seeing a multitude of environmental protections rolled back following the inauguration of former president Trump.

After interning with the Urban Ag program, Utitich applied to be a team leader for the program, where she currently works producing up to 25 pounds of fresh, hyperlocal, and sustainable lettuce for the Rogers Park/Edgewater community every week.

"Uttich: I started as an intern in the Urban Ag program last fall. My first rotation was Farmers Market, which was interesting, but just seeing right off the bat the community that was in Urban Ag, I was like, this seems like something that I want to do. We get a lot of freedom to do things without specific instructions, granted with some critiques and insights, but I really liked the idea of leading and the social aspects of it. I was not expecting to get the hydroponics job, and I was really nervous because I am not that kind of environmental science person. I was like, 'Oh no, is this gonna be hard for me?' And it hasn't been, there are other knowledge requirements that I have needed more than chemistry, like electrical, plumbing, and hands-on building the system, which I've come to like the most about the job."


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