Here’s the latest on grant-winning university teams supported by Fundación Banorte, led by Banorte Chairman Carlos Hank González, Fundación Gruma and the U.S. Department of State as part of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund.

The fund encourages higher education institutions to adopt new models of academic exchange and workforce development programs throughout the Americas. These cross-cultural research teams are seeking to broaden technical skills, solve real-world problems and stimulate economic prosperity.

Partners: Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, and Universidad Autonoma de Chihuahua in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Project: Students and faculty from both universities will participate in field work and learn to manage shared natural resources in the Chihuahuan Desert through workshops and courses within the Sul Ross Borderlands Research Institute’s grassland bird research project.

Their mission: Expose students to challenges faced beyond the Mexico-United States border through hands-on experiences and exposure to a variety of ecosystems while broadening world views and improving access to industry tools needed after graduation.

What’s new: The program has onboarded 18 Universidad Autonoma de Chihuahua students to visit the Nature Conservatory at Davis Mountains Preserve in Jeff Davis County, Texas; the Dixon Water Foundation at Mimms Ranch in Presidio County, Texas; and the Alamito Foundation at the Nine Point Mesa Ranch in Brewster County, Texas. Throughout their journey, students have explored and studied a variety of ecosystems in the region, from sky islands and grassland to hot desert scrub. The trip was a great opportunity to showcase different management systems like livestock grazing, hydrology, brush management and wildlife restoration.

Carlos Gonzalez, assistant professor in range management at the Borderlands Research Institute, said the program helps students broaden their world perspectives.

“This program not only tightens an existing relationship between two universities, but it also allows students to expand their vision of the world,” he said. “We share the same desert and often face different challenges in which we need to apply diverse solutions.”

In the past few months, students have taken advantage of an immersive academic experience that has propelled them forward in ecology and animal science and allowed them to develop a more diverse outlook on sharing natural resources and conducting international relations. 

What’s next: Several Universidad Autonoma de Chihuahua students have been recruited to become graduate students at Sul Ross State University Borderlands Research Institute. Both universities plan to expand the program to allow Sul Ross State University students to travel to Mexico to learn how different parts of the Chihuahuan Desert are being managed.

For more: Since its inception in 2014 through the end of 2020, the Innovation Fund has awarded 243 grants ($25,000 to $35,000 each) to more than 490 universities and institutions, working in teams in 25 countries and in 49 U.S. states. See