Enactus working on aquaponics, alcohol fuel and workshops

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Regional competition is in April in Dallas.

By Alejandro Diaz

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Twenty-three students are involved in projects with the Enactus club and will be participating in regional competition in April in Dallas.

Enactus is a nonprofit organization that works with corporate partners and member universities, and establishes student programs on campuses around the world.

In the organization, students apply business concepts to develop community outreach projects that are geared to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need.

“Most of the businesses invest in Enactus because what they are looking for are students who will eventually work for them,” business Professor Mahmud Yusuf, one of the faculty leaders of the program, said Oct. 5.

“The top 25 companies in America, they all are present in the competition,” he said. “Usually, what happens is that students can find internships through Enactus.”

Yusuf, along with business Professor Charles Hunt, took eight students from this college to the national competition in April and brought home two prizes.

They earned a $1,000 prize for making the finals in the Unilever Bright Future Project Partnership and a $1,750 prize for third place in the Unilever Enhancing Livelihoods Topic Competition. Both prizes were for projects based on an aquaponics system set up in the greenhouse at Koehler Cultural Center, 310 W. Ashby.

Students are currently working on three projects for the 2016 regional competition in April.

The aquaponics system will once again be one of the feature projects as Hunt and his students expect to obtain tangible results.

“Last year we spent the whole year building the system, getting funds, and competing with Unilever, which we won,” Hunt said. “This year, we planted a fall crop and so we have to wait until it grows for the results.”

An aquaponics system combines conventional aquaculture, raising aquatic animals like fish, with hydroponics, which cultivates plants in water. In this system, excretions from the fish help the plants grow.

The goal is to teach students and the community about the aquaponics system and also getting food for the community, Yusuf said.

The Enactus chapter plans to establish a farmer’s market on campus by the garden to sell the extra fruits and vegetables grown out of the aquaponics system.

The new project that started this semester is the Women’s Workshop for Success. This project will provide two seminars that will teach job readiness skills for women who are unemployed and lack confidence to pursue a career.

“It’s workforce development,” Hunt said. “It deals with job preparedness, hard skills building, soft skills building, communication skills, and résumé writing workshops.”

Hunt stated that they hope to fund the project via two grants applications they submitted to Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club.

According to the project information, they plan to continue these seminars into next semester with other workshops to create strong women with the ability to walk into any interview or job promotion and know they can do it.

The other project under way by Yusuf and five students is the small business project called Juicer Heroes Expansion Project.

Juicer Heroes is a company that creates alcohol fuel out of leftover pulp by distilling it.

The business creates enough pulp every week to make about 100 gallons of alcohol fuel. About 15 gallons powers a generator for a building.

Yusuf and his students are working to help Juicer Heroes develop a business plan.

The projects are funded by the business department through fundraising events on campus or by knocking on doors of companies such as Wal-Mart or Enterprise Rental Car, Yusuf said.

The club is part of a business management course, BMGT 2309, Leadership. The club meets during the class period, but membership is not limited to those enrolled.

Next semester, as new students enroll in the class, they hope to add one or two more projects to present at the 2016 regional competition, Hunt said.

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