WSU Tri-Cities Tag

RICHLAND, Wash. – Individuals are encouraged to nominate distinguished female students, staff, faculty members, alumnae or community members who have made notable contributions to the Washington State University Tri-Cities campus through service, teaching or involvement.

Women of Distinction plaquesThe deadline to nominate for WSU Tri-Cities’ Women of Distinction program is March 26. Individuals should submit their nominations at

“We have incredible female leaders and mentors here at WSU Tri-Cities and in the community that both move the university forward and make our region, state and nation a better place,” he said. “I’m excited to welcome nominations for our next class of talented and distinguished female individuals who continue to set an incredible example in our community.”

The selection committee welcomes nominations of women who meet some or all of the following criteria:

  • Exhibits leadership in her discipline or area of expertise
  • Serves as role models and/or mentors to other women
  • Advocates for positive social change that helps close the leadership gap and create a more equitable society
  • Demonstrates a commitment to the missions of WSU Tri-Cities
  • Demonstrates a commitment to social justice and inclusion
  • Has earned respect within their communities
  • Supports policies, practices, attitudes, and/or actions that are intended to produce equitable outcomes for all
  • Gives back to the community through their time, talent, and/or resources

The honorees will be recognized at a photo exhibition and opening reception at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 20, 2018, in the CIC Art Gallery.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Join Washington State University Tri-Cities for a social evening of exquisite wine and food on April 14 as part of the Crimson Food and Wine Classic at Hamilton Cellars and proceeds will go to the university’s hospitality business management and wine business management programs.

Crimson Food Classic at Hamilton CellarsThe evening will begin at 6 p.m. at Hamilton Cellars, 55410 N Sunset Rd. in Benton City, Washington, and will feature six Hamilton wines paired with dishes developed by WSU Pullman lead chef Jamie Callison and WSU students that integrate local and season tastes and flavors.

“It will be an excellent evening of examining and showcasing not only one of our region’s accomplished wineries, but also the hospitality and wine expertise of our WSU Tri-Cities students,” said Robert Harrington, academic director of the WSU Tri-Cities Carson College of Business. “It should be a fun night of food, wine and social networking, as well as an excellent opportunity to get to know some of our accomplished students.”

During the event, students will also present food pairings, manage the silent auction and interact with guests. An example pairing is house-smoked salmon bacon served with roasted Northwest beets, WSU Cougar Gold Cheese, blushing beet stems and paired with 2013 Hamilton Cellars, Weinbau Vineyard Cabernet Franc.Crimson Food and Wine Classic at Hamilton Cellars

“We are so excited to taste the food that Chef Jamie and his students are preparing to pair with our wines,” said Stacie Hamilton, one of the owners of Hamilton Cellars. “Chef Jamie is an amazing chef with an exquisite palate, so we are expecting a magical experience.”

The cost is $75 per person on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets may be purchased at

For more information, contact Deanne Pilkenton at 509-372-7264 or

RICHLAND, Wash. – The apartments currently being constructed on the Washington State University Tri-Cities campus are now taking applications for when they open this fall.

The apartments, known as The Brelsford Vineyards, are scheduled to open in August 2018 in time for fall semester at WSU Tri-Cities. For more information and to apply, visit 

The apartments, which will be located north of the Consolidated Information Center at WSU Tri-Cities, will feature one, two, three and four-bedroom units that will each include a washer and dryer and a full-sized kitchen. Other amenities on the apartment grounds will include a heated swimming pool, sport court, recreation and fitness rooms, community study rooms, a barbecue area and reserved covered parking options.

The apartments are owned by Vineyards Apartments, LLC, and operated by DABCO Property Management, which also manages several apartment complexes near the WSU Pullman campus. 

WSU Tri-Cities partnered with Corporate Pointe Developers who has formed Vineyards Apartments, LLC, and agreed to build the apartments on the university campus in an effort to provide students with an on-campus housing option. The joint venture was approved by the WSU Board of Regents.

“We are extremely excited to be a part of the WSU family in Richland,” said Corporate Pointe Developers President Duane Brelsford. “Furthermore, we are focused on providing a full-time living experience for WSU students where they can live and learn, next to the WSU campus.”

Although the apartments are not managed by WSU Tri-Cities, Chris Meiers, vice chancellor of student affairs, said the proximity of the apartments on university grounds will significantly improve access to educational resources for students on campus.

“Simply by having an on-campus housing option, students are closer to their classes, academic resources like tutoring and study spaces, as well as the library,” he said. “They are also more likely to connect with their peers on a personal level and are more encouraged to get involved in campus programming, which reinforces persistence and academic success.”

For more information on The Brelsford Vineyards, contact Kerri Jo at Corporate Pointe Developers or email For general housing questions at WSU Tri-Cities, visit



Kerri Jo Staniszewski, Corporate Pointe Developers director of operations, , 509-334-4700

Chris Meiers, WSU Tri-Cities vice chancellor for student affairs, 509-372-7381,

Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations specialist, 509-372-7333,

Richland, Wash. – Anthony’s Restaurants will host the WSU Blended Learning Spring Release Party at Budd’s Broiler at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 28. The public is invited to attend.

WSU viticulture and enology student Melanie Ford pours a glass of wine during last year's Blended Learning release party at Budd's Broiler.

WSU viticulture and enology student Melanie Ford pours a glass of wine during last year’s Blended Learning release party at Budd’s Broiler.

Event registration is $125 and includes a wine tasting reception, followed by a four-course dinner prepared by Anthony’s culinary team and expertly paired with wines from some of Washington’s most esteemed wineries. Tickets are available online.

During the tasting reception, guests will be treated to the exclusive, first samples of new WSU Blended Learning student-made wines poured by WSU Viticulture & Enology (V&E) students.

Blended Learning is a V&E class offered to students each semester.  This student winemaking project supports hands-on learning by pairing students with local growers and winemakers who collaborate on all aspects of the winemaking process.

Newly released wines included:

2018 Dry Rosé
Partner Vineyard & Winery: Ancient Lake Wine Company, Columbia Valley

Wine and was released during last year's Blended Learning release party at Budd's Broiler.

WSU wine that was released during last year’s Blended Learning release party at Budd’s Broiler.

2016 GSM
Partner Vineyard: Hattrup Farms, Elephant Mountain
Partner Winery: Bookwalter

2015 Durif
Partner Vineyard & Winery: Kiona Vineyards, Red Mountain

This is the third year in a row that Anthony’s has hosted a fundraising event where 100 percent of funds raised support the WSU V&E Program. To date, Anthony’s has helped raise close to $50,000! Their continued support provides funds for lab modifications and new equipment at the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center in Richland, Wash.


Kaury Balcom, WSU viticulture and enology communication & pubic relations coordinator, 509-372-7223,

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University Tri-Cities was on lockdown for approximately 40 minutes this afternoon after reports of an incident near campus.

Students, staff and faculty were instructed to lockdown in a safe location immediately and emergency protocols were properly followed.

The campus is now open and the campus community is free to resume their regular activities.

The campus community is encouraged to make sure they are signed up for emergency alerts through their myWSU portal at Once logged in to myWSU, scroll to “Tri-Cities Emergency Info” and click “Update Now!”

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Adam Halvorsen knows that providing the best possible patient care is crucial in the health field, which is why he is using his degree in nursing from Washington State University Tri-Cities to advocate for better care for patients and for his nursing colleagues across the state.

Halvorsen got involved in advocating for nursing policy as a student at WSU Tri-Cities. Little did he know, his efforts would lead him to become the WSU College of Nursing Outstanding Undergraduate Student this fall.

“It’s been an amazing ride so far,” he said. “I’ve been very humbled by this profession and by my incredible colleagues, and I’m excited to see where it leads me.”

Inspired by service

Halvorsen’s passion for service grew out of his start in the military. The day after 9/11, he signed up for the U.S. Marine Corps and spent four years active-duty with time in Okinawa, Japan, as well as through a tour in Iraq.

“Sept. 11 happened and on Sept. 12, I signed up,” he said. “I saw a need and I went for it. My core philosophy is service. I believe in service to others before self.”

After he left the armed forces, Halvorsen continued his career in service in two jobs: as an emergency management technician for Medstar Ambulance and as a firefighter for the Gallup Fire Department in Gallup, New Mexico. He enjoyed those roles, he said, but he wanted to be a part of the long-term care and recuperation of his patients, rather than just being a part of their initial care in his emergency care roles.

“The thing with nursing is you don’t see a person at their height of being – you see people at their base,” he said. “To be able to be allowed in that moment of their lives and to try to have a positive impact, it is a blessing to be able to do that.”

He enrolled in the WSU Tri-Cities nursing program, which is where he was introduced to opportunities that would allow him to use his passion to better nursing and patient care for Washington state.

Leadership in nursing

In addition to the hands-on training he received from his experienced professors and instructors in the WSU Tri-Cities nursing program, Halvorsen received the opportunity to take on leadership roles within several state nursing organizations.

He served as president of Nursing Students of Washington State. His experience at WSU also led him to serve as part of the Washington State Nurses Association, as well as attend a national conference through the National Student Nurses’ Association. Through these affiliations, Halvorsen had the opportunity to provide input on association policy, expand communication efforts through video, as well as generally advocate for his peers and future colleagues in nursing.

Adam Halvorsen with a peer at the 35th annual Nurse Legislative Day

Adam Halvorsen with a peer at the 35th annual Nurse Legislative Day

Last year, Halvorsen also joined his WSU peers to represent WSU at Nursing Day at the Capitol in Olympia, which allowed him to interact with prominent government figures to advocate for patient care and speak publically about the importance of nursing education and the nursing profession.

Halvorsen said he hadn’t initially planned on getting involved with these types of leadership roles or that it would lead him earning the WSU College of Nursing Outstanding Undergraduate Student award.

“I honestly didn’t expect it, but I’m honored to represent my incredible peers for the work we have accomplished together,” he said.

Future as a nursing leader 

Halvorsen said the primary reason behind his activism in the nursing field is that he is able to have a positive impact, not only on the current state of health care, but also its future.

“If we could get more students interested in being proactive, not only in policy, but in their communities, we could have a much better impact in nursing, compared with what we think our limits are as student nurses,” he said. “Washington has amazing potential – we have a lot of schools and students out there. There’s an amazing opportunity to grow nursing and help people.”

After graduating this fall, Halvorsen now has the opportunity to exude even more leadership through his role as a director for the National Student Nurse’s Association where he is also head of the ethics and goverance committee for the organization. Additionally, he has accepted a position as a full-time nurse in the cardiac department of the Kadlec Regional Medical Center.

After spending a few years as a full-time nurse, he plans to obtain his doctorate of nursing practice. He hopes to use his career experience and academic credentials to continue with advocacy work and volunteer opportunities. His long-term goal is to work with the American Nursing Association to develop and refine nursing policy.

“It’s been incredible experience so far, both through my education with incredible professors at WSU, in addition to what I’ve been able to participate in through state and national organizations,” he said. “I hope to keep having an impact in nursing so that everyone can benefit.”

Halvorsen said he couldn’t have accomplished his feats without the mentorship he received from the the nurses at WSU, WSNA and those within the NSNA.

“Their guidance and leadership has taught me so much that I will continue to use throughout the rest of my career,” he said.

By Maegan Murray

RICHLAND, Wash. –  A Washington State University Tri-Cities education professor has partnered with her father, a software engineer, to develop a fun and hands-on educational tool that will allow students to virtually explore geographic areas, expand their spatial awareness skills and improve overall geoliteracy.

Students at Marcus Whitman Elementary School use PuzzleMap as a classroom resource

Students at Marcus Whitman Elementary School use PuzzleMap as a classroom resource.

National Geographic defines geoliteracy as “the ability to use geographic understanding and geographic reasoning to make far-reaching decisions.” Sarah Newcomer, assistant professor of literacy education at WSU Tri-Cities, said students use the skill in a range of academic fields, in addition to everyday life.

That is why she and her father, Fred Newcomer, created the program, PuzzleMap, which features moveable map elements with interactive clues and images to expand the user’s knowledge of any geographic area.

“With this project, we’re really looking at how this tool supports kids in developing their geographic literacy and spatial reasoning, as there are many kids who prefer to learn that way,” Sarah Newcomer said. “Not all kids may be successful with pencils and paper. It’s a different way of learning and approaching the material, as well as a different modality that they can learn through.”

From GIS to integrated classroom technology

Fred Newcomer spent a year developing the platform. He said he wanted to use his years of experience with geographic information systems in the public safety sector to help address global environmental concerns. The project quickly showed its value for elementary students, thanks to the advisement of his daughter.

A student uses PuzzleMap at Marcus Whitman Elementary School

A student uses PuzzleMap at Marcus Whitman Elementary School.

“My initial intent was to simply make something that other people might find interesting and enjoy doing,” he said. “Games like Tetris, Candy Crush and Pokemon Go have attracted many juvenile and adult players, but they don’t really offer any secondary benefit … When Sarah first saw PuzzleMap, she immediately suggested that it could be a valuable classroom tool.”

Sarah Newcomer worked with her father to create a PuzzleMap of the United States specifically for use at the elementary school level. Students use the program to complete a puzzle by placing a state in its correct spot on a blank map. The individual pieces also feature useful facts ranging from population, to climate, to key industries in each region, which the students can use as clues.

Success in the classroom

This year, Sarah Newcomer and Jonah Firestone, assistant professor of science education and assessment, partnered with two fifth-grade classes at Marcus Whitman Elementary School in Richland and a fifth-grade class at Barbara McClintock STEM Elementary School in Pasco to assess PuzzleMap’s effectiveness in the classroom.

Although data analysis is in the preliminary stages, Newcomer said an initial review of the results indicate that the program helped students retain information at a greater rate than if they hadn’t used the program – and typically by a wide margin.

“We hypothesized that the group that supplemented their regular curriculum with Puzzle map would do better, but we didn’t plan for just how well they would do,” she said. “It just goes to show that adding supplemental resources with the regular curriculum can provide a huge benefit to students.”

Excitement for learning

Most of the students participating in the study said they loved using the program. Students enjoyed exploring both states that were unfamiliar, as well as their favorite states. Other students said they enjoyed competing with themselves to improve their proficiency score.

McKenzie Munn speaks with students at Marcus Whitman Elementary School

McKenzie Munn, a fifth-grade teacher at Marcus Whitman Elementary School, speaks with a couple of her students. Her class was one of the first group to test the viability of PuzzleMap in the classroom.

“I can place all of the states on the map in 1 minute and 40 seconds,” said Divine Salazar, a fifth-grade student at Marcus Whitman. “I even got an app on my phone to study it at home, too.”

McKenzie Munn, a fifth-grade teacher at Marcus Whitman Elementary, said students were more engaged with their geographic curriculum when they completed PuzzleMap in conjunction with their given material.

“This resource is a tool that we can use to supplement everything we were already planning on teaching,” she said. “It is not a replacement and not going to change the way we do social studies, but it is just going to make it better.”

Trevor Dunstan, a technology specialist at McClintock agreed, noting the program “would be an excellent resource for working hands-on with different content areas.”

Future of PuzzleMap

Fred Newcomer said he plans to continue working with his daughter to develop more PuzzleMap content for elementary students and on adding features that will facilitate classroom use. He is currently developing a variety of PuzzleMap ideas to raise environmental awareness, promote public spaces and market regional products. The platform is also being used to highlight the complexities of legislative districting.

The program is available now for schools and other organizations to use. For more information on PuzzleMap and related technology resources, visit

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Two teams at Washington State University Tri-Cities have partnered with Washington River Protection Solutions to procure and program an autonomous vehicle and develop a form of ultra high-performance concrete to help protect workers in radioactive areas at the Hanford Site and safely immobilize solid secondary wastes.

Srinivas Allena and students

Engineering professor Srinivas Allena and students work with in the concrete lab at WSU Tri-Cities.

WRPS is the U.S. Department of Energy’s Tank Operations contractor responsible for managing Hanford’s 56 million gallons of highly radioactive waste and preparing it for delivery to the Waste Treatment Plant on the site. The partnership for the projects will provide WRPS with customized technology to fit their needs, in addition to further improving the safety capabilities of its employees and environmental impact stemming from the tank farms at the Hanford Site.

Robotics to analyze radioactive vapors

WRPS provided a WSU team with an initial contract to procure and program an autonomous vehicle that would be used for measuring vapors, or chemical gases, within the tank farms.

The WSU team consists of Akram Hossain, vice chancellor for research, graduate studies and external programs; Scott Hudson, professor of electrical engineering; John Miller, associate professor of computer science; and Changki Mo, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

The team plans to purchase a pre-fabricated, compact and programmable vehicle, which has the capacity to hold 40-50 pounds of equipment. The team will then eventually outfit, customize and program the vehicle for its desired purpose within the tank farms. The vehicle must be able to follow a defined path, dock itself to charge its battery, withstand long-term use, be able to run autonomously, as well as allow manual override operations.

“This vehicle will be going into areas, minimizing personnel entries, so we need to assure that it can operate reliably and it won’t break down,” Miller said “We have to make certain that the quality is of impeccable standards and that the system can demonstrate operational longevity in these areas.”

The design of the autonomous vehicle marks the first phase of what will potentially turn into a multi-phase project. WRPS has also expressed interest in having the robot detect obstacles in a changing environment, change filters at the site and monitor radiation. Miller said those challenges will most-likely be addressed in future phases of the project.

“This is a great opportunity, both for WSU, as well as for our students,” Miller said. “It creates opportunities for undergraduate research, as well as providing funding for graduate research. It is the perfect opportunity for us.”

The team plans to have the first phase of the autonomous vehicle completed and demonstrated to WRPS in the next few months. The team will conduct demonstrations and additional phases of development over the course of the year. When fully developed, the autonomous vehicle would be deployed in tank farms to support construction and operations.

Ultra high-performance concrete to encapsulate nuclear waste

Srinivas Allena, WSU Tri-Cities associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, received a contract to develop an ultra-high performance cementitious

Cementitious material created by Srinivas Allena and his team

Cementitious material created by Srinivas Allena and his team at WSU Tri-Cities.

material to potentially be used as a grout to encapsulate solid secondary waste from the Hanford tank farms.

“WRPS is currently using a grout that they obtain from a local concrete supplier, which uses a regular cement mix with sand and some other chemical additives,” Allena said. “But the goal with our research is to use locally available materials to create a composite with low permeability, superior durability and greater stability that would perform at the same level as the commercially available pre-packaged ultra high-performance concrete.”

Allena said there is currently limited types of ultra high-performance concrete available on the market with high operational costs associated with use of the material. He said by using locally available materials and by optimizing mixture constituents with those that are more environmentally friendly with his team’s composite, however, they would be able to keep the costs low, while maintaining the same quality in the concrete and reducing the impact to the environment.

“We will be able to compare our grout materials with properties that WRPS is currently using and show the improved properties,” he said. “The goal is to provide a cheaper, more environmentally friendly option that will compete with the best product on the market.”

The team plans to have initial mixtures ready with their mechanical and durability properties evaluated by September.

The projects are a part of solving some of the world’s Grand Challenges. They pertain particularly to developing sustainable resources and smart systems by harnessing technology to improve quality of life. The projects are also in line with WSU’s Drive to 25.

By Maegan Murray

RICHLAND, Wash. – Organizations and private individuals from throughout the Columbia Basin joined together last month to support the future of regional business, but not in the traditional sense.

Ryan Leaf speaks as part of the Point to Success Brunch at Anthony's at Columbia Point in Richland

Ryan Leaf speaks as part of the Point to Success Brunch at Anthony’s at Columbia Point in Richland.

The dollars didn’t go toward supporting new up-and-coming businesses, building facade renovations, or promoting the next booming business product. Rather, the $36,695 raised at Point to Success brunch event will benefit the Washington State University Tri-Cities’ Carson College of Business. The college will use the funds to support classroom innovation, student academic services and career success activities, and faculty research.

In support of the event, Anthony’s at Columbia Point donated its entire restaurant space, a first-class meal and service for the mid-morning event that welcomed more than 100 people. Other businesses and individuals donated wine for a wine grab at the event, lavish vacation packages, rounds of golf and tours and tastings from local wineries, all of which were auctioned to benefit the Carson College.

McCurley Integrity Dealerships sponsored the appearance of Cougar football great Ryan Leaf at the brunch, who shared his inspiring story of overcoming years of drug abuse to now supporting others in the recovery process. The aspect of community, Leaf said, was crucial to his recovery.

Alaska Airlines, The Lodge at Columbia Point, Abadan, Hampton Inn Seattle Southcenter, NewEdge and Bonsai Audio also gave generously by making Leaf’s trip to the Tri-Cities and stay possible and by sponsoring the costs of the event programs, signage and sound equipment.

“The community support we have seen through the years is truly incredible, given the significant drop over the last decade of state funding that supports the University,” said Robert Harrington, director of the WSU Tri-Cities academic program. “Community support allows us to continue providing a premier education our students will use to provide first-class service in the business sector.”

It just makes sense

For Mike Tvedt, general manager of Anthony’s at Columbia Point, investing in the future of wine and hospitality business just makes sense. Investing in the

A chef cooks an entry that was served as part of the Point to Success Brunch at Anthony's at Columbia Point in Richland

A chef cooks an entry that was served as part of the Point to Success Brunch at Anthony’s at Columbia Point in Richland.

education of future business leaders, ensures students are well-prepared with premier business knowledge, research-driven business methods and a mindset for success, he said.

“The reason we got involved with the Carson College of Business was because of the hospitality program moving to WSU Tri-Cities a couple of years ago,” he said. “It goes back to the founder and owner of our company, Budd Gould, who believes it is important to give back to the community. It seemed like a natural fit that we would be involved with the program and do what we can to make it successful, because we are always in need of great hospitality employees.”

The Point to Success brunch isn’t the only way that Anthony’s has given back to a WSU Tri-Cities program, either. Anthony’s Restaurants own the next-door Budd’s Broiler, which holds the annual release party for the WSU Blended Learning wines. Through the Blended Learning program, wine science students partner with local wineries to produce premier wines. Budd’s Broiler donates the space, service and food for the event each year.

The family-owned-and-operated Anthony’s Restaurants are well-known across the Pacific Northwest for their first-class service, premier food and exceptional standards. But in order to continue that legacy, and even further improve upon their hospitality service, Tvedt said they must prepare those who will lead the business on into the future.

“We strive for five-star service and a five-star experience because that is what people expect,” Tvedt said. “We want to make sure that the future of our business is prepared and has the knowledge and know-how to meet those standards. WSU Tri-Cities is helping us meet that need.”

Impact on the community 

A Carson College Coug herself, Hamilton Cellars owner Stacie Hamilton said her WSU business education has benefited her own business success. In turn, she gives

Hamilton Cellars owners at WSU Tri-Cities Wine and Jazz event

Stacie Hamilton (right), one of the owners of Hamilton Cellars, has used her degree from the Carson of College of Business in her own business.

back to the WSU Tri-Cities business program, not only as a business owner, but also as an advisory member for the Carson College and as an adjunct faculty member at WSU Tri-Cities, because she knows the return will be tenfold for the local community.

In addition to giving monetarily to events like the Point to Success Brunch and donating Hamilton Cellars wine and products, Hamilton creates real-world learning opportunities for students at the winery.

“In addition to classroom education, WSU students require the real-world practical experience, which they get through internships, jobs in local business and generally through mentors in their business field,” she said. “They apply that combined knowledge to develop businesses of their own or grow established businesses. The reciprocity between the community and the university is special.”

Looking to the future

Harrington said the support the Carson College of Businesses has received from community

Robert Harrington (left) and Pauline Garza, a recent graduate of the Carson College of Business

Robert Harrington (left) and Pauline Garza, a recent graduate of the Carson College of Business. Garza is now the head chef at The Lodge at Columbia Point.

individuals and organizations will have an immediate and lasting impact on the future of businesses across the state.

“WSU’s business programs consistently rank among the top programs in the country, and the community support has been a crucial component,” he said. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without our community support.”

WSU’s hospitality business program, specifically, ranks eighth in the nation among all programs, nationwide. Harrington said the Tri-Cities-based program, being in the heart of Washington wine country, has the potential to grow immensely and be a huge treasure for the regional business community.

“We strive for excellence across the board, and it shows in our graduates,” he said. “We aim to produce the best business graduates so that our community and their businesses may benefit.”

By Jessica Roth, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – WSU Tri-Cities recently launched an initiative to combat the growing need for food availability and improve population health and wellbeing on campus.

“For students in particular, we know that academic performance can be affected by not having enough food to eat, having poor nutrition and trying to feed a family,” said Debbie Conner, director of WSU Tri-Cities health and wellness.

In 2016, a campus financial survey revealed that 33 percent of students at WSU Tri-Cities experienced financial difficulty. Many students in the WSU Tri-Cities 2017 fall class also met high-risk factors for food insecurity, according to the survey. As a result, Conner developed the Personal Food Security and Wellness Project.

The program aims to deepen the understanding of food insecurity among students, faculty and staff and mobilize efforts to ensure the campus community is food secure. A grant from The National Consortium for Building Healthy Academic Communities will help the project get off the ground.

Through the WSU Tri-Cities project, campus personnel will conduct a food security survey, expand the existing food bank and community garden, provide campus wellness education and develop community educational partnerships to improve food security and educate about related applicable life skills. Utilization rates for the basic food bank on campus over the past two years included 350 requests for food. The project is estimated to serve more than 500 people during its first 12-month period.

Conner said food insecurity is correlated with decreased attendance, lower grades, lower test scores, lower reading skills and decreased study skills. Students who struggle with accessing food are more likely to miss school or discontinue their education entirely, she said.

“For a growing campus like WSU Tri-Cities, we really want to know about the prevalence of food insecurity and how we can improve the wellness and life skills for our campus community,” Conner said. “This project will increase the access and knowledge students have regarding healthy food consumption and will reduce their reliance on fast food.”