CAUSES In Action | May 2021
Meet Ralph Belton
 Program Director | Acting Chair | Associate Professor
" Non palma sine labore. (No reward without labor.)" - Ralph B.
In this month's edition, we proudly present Professor Ralph Belton is the Acting Chair of the Department of Urban Architecture and Urban Sustainability at the University of the District of Columbia, Van Ness Campus.
As a proud alumnus of DC Teachers College and Howard University, Professor Belton became a licensed architect in 1983. He has been an architecture professor for over 40 years, returning to UDC to teach in its Urban Architecture and Community Planning degree Program.

As the only architecture program in the nation housed within a college of agriculture, the interdisciplinary program educates the next generation of architects in the importance of design as a tool for creating sustainable urban environments through research-based collaborations with a variety of partners in environmental studies, the health professions, nutrition, water resources management, agriculture, and community outreach.

"All collaborative research projects here at UDC forever keep me fueled and thrilled!"

Professor Belton remains energized by the challenge to help students become successful. In his current role as Chairperson, he is a student advocate, exhibiting pride in creating the space for undergraduate and graduate students to become confident lifelong learners and leaders. The program is including more research in its educational landscape. To date, two students have received monetary awards for soon-to-be-published research papers.

Receiving full accreditation in 2017, the M.Arch. program recently attained eight-year accreditation status from the National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB). The B.S. in Architecture is the preprofessional degree.

"The most recent attainment of our eight-year accreditation status continues to be exciting. It has opened doors that allow us to now have a chapter of Tau Sigma Delta, the honor society associated with architecture, on campus. Our program is the recipient of donations from several large international architectural firms, and some of our students have been placed within these firms, as summer interns and beyond. Also, we have embedded mentors from these large firms who work directly with us in two of our studios." - Ralph B.

For more information on the Architecture and Community Planning Program, visit
NEWS: Pepco and The University of the District of Columbia Launched New Sustainable Farming Technology and Education Initiative for Students, Residents in the Nation’s Capital
WASHINGTON, D.C. on April 30th. The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) and Pepco have announced the launch of UDC Grown, a new, innovative agricultural (Ag Pod)
at the Bertie Backus campus in Ward 5.

The Ag Pod is a sustainable indoor vertical growing environment for produce that allows communities to grow food year-round. With this initiative, Pepco and UDC are deploying sustainable farming technology to provide residents with fresh food and teach students more about clean energy, electricity production, and sustainable agriculture.

With this project, Pepco hopes to gain a better understanding of the impact indoor food production facilities could have on electric load planning in the near future, and how these structures can support local communities facing issues like growing food deserts and a lack of sustainable options for urban farming and food production.

As Pepco continues to develop its Connected Communities initiative, projects like these are helping shape the vision of what the utility of the future may look like and how Pepco can collaborate with community partners to modernize and improve communities through reliable, affordable clean energy. In addition, this Ag Pod will serve as a collaborative space where students and local youth will have access to educational opportunities to start on a path to becoming the next generation of energy leaders, urban farmers, sustainability experts, policymakers, and innovators.

For more information, please contact Dr. Kamran Zendehdel, the Acting Director of Center for Sustainable Development and Resilience at
Must Read: Newly Published Article COVID-19 Pandemic-Related Changes in Wellness Behavior Among Older Americans
We conducted an online survey with 9969 adults of 40 years and older concerning demographic variables, pre-existing health conditions, physical activity, access to food, quality-of-life, and nutritional food status and asked participants to respond with information from pre-pandemic and pandemic conditions.
We used paired-sample t-tests to detect changes in variables after the start of the pandemic and Cohen’s d to determine effect sizes.

Please contact Matthew Richardson at for more information regarding this research project.
Publication Contributors Include:
  • Elgloria Harrison
  • Lillie Monroe-Lord
  • Andrew D. Carson
  • Anne Marie Jean-Baptiste
  • Janet Phoenix
  • Phronie Jackson
  • B. Michelle Harris
  • Elmira Asongwed
  • Matthew L. Richardson
Student Spotlight
Meet Carletta Hurt, Ph.D. Student of Urban Leadership & Entrepreneurship
We believe UDC-CAUSES students say it BEST and here are their RESULTS!
Carletta's recent research was featured in our Research Week entitled, Masking the Black Male Scholar – Graduation or Bust! She's currently completing her Ph.D. program while utilizing a scholar-practitioner approach to learning and research.
Carletta Hurt is a Ph.D. student who is a passionate educator and a fierce youth advocate with over two decades of serving young people through education and empowerment programs.

Note: If you're like Carletta and want to become a leader who has developed original approaches to problems that are particularly urban, we can help.

Testimonial Talk
The compulsory age for public school attendance is 18 years or younger (US Department of Education, 2017). The daily motivation, resilience, and courage to continue in high school beyond the compulsory age pose a challenge, especially for black male students. The study seeks to identify the precipitating factors that lead black male students to dropout or persist towards graduation. - Carletta Hunt.
Staff Spotlight
Congrats to Brittany Loca & Kenneth Copper!
Join CAUSES Nation as We Celebrate our Staff and
their Recent Academic Achievement!
Hats off up to this year's graduates of CAUSES Nation! Whether they’re earning a diploma, a program certificate, a degree, or even a cool new professional title, their hard work deserves some warm, thoughtful words of recognition and encouragement.

Join us as we recognize Brittany Loca for graduating with her Masters of Professional Studies in Project Management at Georgetown University and Kenneth Cooper for receiving his Ph.D. in Political Science from Howard University. Go Firebirds!

"I’m sure today will be only the first of many proud, successful moments for you all. Sending warm congratulations today and best wishes for all your tomorrows and future endeavors to come.” - Dean Jones
Celebrate #SocialMediaDay with CAUSES on June 30!
Founded in 2010, Social Media Day is observed annually on June 30th. In its short existence, social media has redefined how people interact, communicate, and share with family, friends, and the world.
The power and influence behind social media make it possible to stay connected and informed about those important people or things in our lives. From reconnecting with classmates to past work associates, and much more is also a valuable part of social media. It has also made it possible to connect with and find relatives and ancestors you never even knew existed. Yes, the family ancestry has become a social media platform as well.

Online sites like,, and many others all supply a social platform where distant family members potentially meet and build their family trees.

Want to stay in the know and become a part of the CAUSES social family? Follow us now and learn how CAUSES can better benefit you professionally or academically.

We invite you and your colleagues to engage with us socially next month and share your favorite meme or connect with someone you’ve not spoken to in ages. Use the hashtags #UDCCAUSES and #SocialMediaDay when posting to remind others of this day.
UDC-CAUSES FREE Summer e-Courses and Training Programs are Now Open for Registration!
In response to the pandemic and remote measures put in place, the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability, and Environmental Science (CAUSES) Land-Grant Centers will continue its scholastic efforts this summer, and administer both virtual courses and certificate programs that will better serve the District, the Nation, and the world. 
To apply or for questions, please contact Marshelle Hailstock, Project Coordinator, Outreach and Recruitment, at
The US Environmental Protection Agency is Seeking Interns for this Fall Semester!
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking for skilled and eager interns to help at its Office of Public Affairs in Washington, DC. 
The intern, a registered college or university student, (undergraduate or graduate) will primarily assist a small but motivated team of media relations officers who field media inquiries and interview requests on a number of highly visible environmental policy issues and areas. These include but are not limited to:
Carbon emission regulations; clean water; pesticides and toxic chemicals; and environmental justice, etc.
Priority Deadline: June 18
Interested candidates should send their cover letter and resumes to:

  • Nancy Coviello

  • Robert Daguillard
UDC Bertie Backus Community Garden is Now Accepting Garden Plot Applications
The garden space is located at the UDC Bertie Backus Campus. The well-known Community Garden consists of twenty-six (26) 3.5' x 7' raised garden boxes.
The Community Garden's Board of Directors, in conjunction with UDC's College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES), assigns plots to applicants on a first-come, first-served, and waiting list basis. The garden is currently free and does not collect any membership dues or fees. 
Note: No gardening experience is needed. New, amateur, and experienced gardeners are all welcome! 
Priority Deadline: June 30 
For more information regarding the Bertie Backus Community Garden, contact Patricia Bon directly at
Now Offering: Americorps Positions at Rock Creek Park
Americorps is now offering a great opportunity for recent graduates to participate in a 50-week program for its June cohort of community volunteer ambassadors at Rock Creek Park.

To apply, contact Jeanne Braha at
or 301-579-3105.

Upcoming Events
Save the Date: UDC-CAUSES Wants to Hear from You at Our Upcoming Community Listening Session!
We cordially invite D.C. residents to join the first-ever virtual Community Listening Session event where residents are offered a safe, shared space to address their challenging concerns in response to their community needs as it relates to diet, health, and nutrition education within the District.

In this session, we aim to collect current and potential issues that may arise in targeted locations and then locate ways on how UDC-CAUSES can utilize its inner resources and initiatives can combat these various issues.

Also, we will be providing great insights about our NEW initiatives within the urban farming industry and share how you can get involved with the College to initiate positive change in the following areas:
  • Workforce Development
  • Community Development
  • Professional Development
  • Personal/Human Development

Your voice matters! Help us continue our efforts in the building - "Healthy People & Healthy Cities."
Save the Date:

Join us on Thursday, June 10th
DC Master Gardener Program Kicks Off with an Informational Session
The DC Master Gardener Program (DCMG) will host its live, virtual informational session and provide guided information about the application process, basic training, and the DCMG program as a whole.

This will be a great opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the program and what it takes to become a DC Master Gardener!
Please contact Patrica Bon at or
(202) 941-7923.
Virtual Open House: RN to BSN
Learn how you can complete your degree in 16 months or less by enrolling in our fully online, accredited, RN to BSN degree program.

About this Event
Do you have an associate degree in nursing? A 2.7 cumulative GPA or higher? A nursing license, or will you receive one in the next few months? Please join us for our upcoming open house for an overview and discussion of the program.

At the event, we will cover the program curriculum, credits, costs, funding opportunities, and explore career possibilities. We will also answer commonly asked questions in detail. Upon registering for the open house, the nursing program will provide all registrants with a link for attendance.

Please visit our program site to learn more details about the RN to BSN program.

For general inquiries and application support, contact Kenneth J. Cooper, Ph.D., Student Recruitment and Academic Advising Specialist/
RN to BSN Program, at
Mark Your Calendar

Join us on Thursday, June 10, from 5:00 - 6:00 pm
Trending Virtual Programs
UDC-CAUSES Urban Agriculture Soil-Less Certificate Program Returns Just in Time for Summer!
This course gives participants a glimpse into the past and looks at current soilless advancing trends in today's agricultural world. Participants will dive into the basic needs and choices of system design, material selection, the best options for fish and plants, and the implementation of first steps. 

See below for program highlights:
  • Time Offered: June 14 – July 30, 2021.
  • Length of Course: 11 courses; 15 hours. 
  • Classes range from 30 minutes – 90 minutes.
  • Course Fees: FREE

If you are interested in this course and becoming certified, please contact Victoria Mirowski at or 202-819-5704.
Mark Your Calendar

Class Starts June 14th

Spots are limited!
DC Master Gardener Offers New Educational Workshop Series on 6/8!
It’s Cicada season!

Well-known for their 13 and 17-year life cycles and massive synchronous emergences, periodical cicadas are unique in the insect world.

In this series: we will explore the natural history, ecology, and behavior of the seven species of periodical cicadas indigenous to North America. Predator satiation, the periodical cicada’s bizarre strategy for survival, will be contrasted with defenses of their kin the dog-day cicadas. Learn when cicadas will appear and how they will impact humans, pets, wildlife, and plants in our region.

Find out what to expect from our moderator that’s been underground for 17 years with The Bug Guy, Michael J. Raupp, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Entomology and Extension Specialist at the University of Maryland.

Series Begins: 6/8/21
About Speaker

He has written Bug of the Week for over fifteen years and is a frequent guest bug expert for Good Morning America, NPR, and other news outlets. He has appeared on BBC, CNN, National Geographic Ultimate Explorer, The Dr. Oz Show, Tyra Banks, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, among others.

Please contact Patrica Bon at
Returning June 1st: Dive in for our NEW "Healthy Eating on a Budget" eCourse this Summer!
This is a 16-hour interactive, remote-based certificate course. It is designed to help the audience eat healthy on a budget. Learn how to make traditional recipes healthier. Work with the instructor to address issues that prevent healthy eating. (Cooking demonstrations are included.)

Line up your ingredients. Cook along with the instructor for healthier meal options!

Contact Dr. Amy Schweitzer for the course link and registration information or 202-923 7204

MyPlate for My Family: A Nutrition Series for Parents, Educators, & Kids
MyPlate for My Family: SNAP Nutrition Education makes it easier to learn more about healthy food and physical activity choices. Making healthy choices for your family is one way to show how much you care.
Attend fun, interactive classes where you can meet other parents who are making healthy changes in their lives. Find new ways to save money and time when buying food and making meals. Be inspired as you learn ways to be more active.

During the classes, you can learn tips to:
• Fix MyPlate family meals to stretch your food dollar
• Get the right amount of food and physical activity
• Serve fruits and vegetables that kids will enjoy
• Make family time active and fun

Class Starts: June 1, 2021
Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right #3
With food security being such a big headline during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has never been a better time to learn how to make cost-effective, nutritious meals that can be easily stored.

Each one-hour workshop is designed to provide participants with information on healthy eating and food safety for older adults. There will be classes on reading and understanding the nutrition facts label and tips for grocery shopping. Each class will include a cooking demonstration with Chef Herb Holden!

Class Begins: 6/7/21

For more information, please contact Miranda Desmarais at
Are you interested in advancing your expertise and skill set in food safety management?

This virtual course is designed to teach food safety management principles and how to utilize those core principles to create a food safety culture. Additionally, the course emphasizes and provides information to students about identifying and avoiding harmful food contaminants, proper employee health and hygiene, cleaning and sanitation principles, and safe food handling practices. Classes reconvene on 6/14/21!

Bonus: Participants will have the opportunity to earn a Professional Food Manager certification if they pass the national certification exam with a score of 70% or better.

For additional information about this course, please contact Paul Brown, Jr. at or 202-841-1902.
Welcome to the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability, and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). UDC is the only urban, land-grant university in the nation. CAUSES was formed, in 2010, as the university’s land-grant college.

We engage in applied teaching and research that helps to improve the quality of life and economic opportunity for residents of the District of Columbia and others around the world, through traditional academic degrees, and through non-degree, non-credit bearing, skills-building programs, such as green infrastructure and urban agriculture.

CAUSES is unique in its organizational structure and its mission: an interdisciplinary college, where academic programs, such as architecture, urban sustainability, health education, nutrition and dietetics, and nursing, train a forward-thinking generation of professionals who will ensure that the world has “Healthy Cities–Healthy People.” The college houses the only doctoral-level program in the nation that focuses on urban leadership and entrepreneurship.

For more information or inquiries, feel free to contact us at

Socially Active? Connect with Us!

About the University of the District of Columbia
University of the District of Columbia is a HBCU, urban land-grant, and the only public university in the nation's capital, The University of the District of Columbia is committed to a broad mission of education, research, and community service. Established by abolitionist Myrtilla Miner in 1851, the University of DC offers Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral Degrees and a host of workplace development services designed to create opportunities for student success. The University is comprised of the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business and Public Administration, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, a Community College, and the David A. Clarke School of Law. To learn more, visit The University of the District of Columbia is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Institution. Minorities, women, veterans, and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply. For a full version of the University's EO Policy Statement, please visit The University of the District of Columbia is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education - 3624 Market Street - Philadelphia, PA 19104 - 267.284.5000.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, familial/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs, reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the responsible Agency or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, this information is available in languages other than English. To file a complaint alleging discrimination, please complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at, or at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to US Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. Submit your completed letter or form to USDA via fax: (202) 690-7442; or email: To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.
The University of the District of Columbia is an Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action institution. The University prohibits discrimination or harassment against any person on the basis of the actual or perceived actual race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, marital status, personal appearance, genetic information, familial status, source of income, status as a victim of an intrafamily offense, place of residence or business, or status as a covered veteran, as provided for and to the extent required by District and Federal statutes and regulations. This policy covers all programs, services policies, and procedures of the University, including admission to educational programs and employment. The University emphasizes the recruitment of minorities, women, disabled individuals, disabled veterans, Vietnam era veterans, and other eligible veterans.
El Departamento de Agricultura de EE. UU. (USDA) prohíbe la discriminación en todos sus programas y actividades por motivos de raza, color, nacionalidad, religión, sexo, identidad de género (incluida la expresión de género), orientación sexual, discapacidad, edad, estado civil, estado familiar / parental, ingresos derivados de un programa de asistencia pública, creencias políticas, represalias o represalias por actividades previas de derechos civiles. (No todas las bases prohibidas se aplican a todos los programas.) Las personas con discapacidades que requieren medios de comunicación alternativos para obtener información sobre el programa. (por ejemplo, Braille, letra grande, cinta de audio, lenguaje de señas estadounidense, etc.) debe comunicarse con la Agencia responsable o con el TARGET Center de USDA al (202) 720-2600 (voz y TTY) o comunicarse con el USDA a través del Federal Relay Service al (800) 877-8339. Además, esta información está disponible en otros idiomas además del inglés. Para presentar una queja alegando discriminación, por favor complete el Formulario de Queja por Discriminación del Programa del USDA, AD-3027, que se encuentra en línea en, o en cualquier oficina del USDA o escriba una carta dirigida a Departamento de Agricultura de los Estados Unidos, Oficina del Subsecretario de Derechos Civiles, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 y proporcionar en la carta toda la información solicitada en el formulario. Envíe su carta o formulario completado al USDA por fax: (202) 690-7442; o correo electrónico: Para solicitar una copia del formulario de queja, llame al (866) 632-9992. USDA es un proveedor, empleador y prestamista con igualdad de oportunidades para todos.
La Universidad del Distrito de Columbia es una institución de Acción Afirmativa en Igualdad de Oportunidades. La Universidad prohíbe la discriminación o el acoso contra cualquier persona sobre la base de la raza, color, religión, nacionalidad, sexo, edad, discapacidad, orientación sexual, identidad o expresión de género reales o percibidos, responsabilidades familiares, matrícula, afiliación política, estado marital, apariencia personal, información genética, estado familiar, fuente de ingresos, estado como víctima de una ofensa intrafamiliar, lugar de residencia o negocio, o estado como veterano, según lo dispuesto y en la medida requerida por los estatutos del Distrito y Federal y regulaciones. Esta política cubre todos los programas, políticas de servicios y procedimientos de la Universidad, incluida la admisión a programas educativos y empleo. La Universidad enfatiza el reclutamiento de minorías, mujeres, personas discapacitadas, veteranos discapacitados, veteranos de la era de Vietnam y otros veteranos elegibles.