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Mt Airy Civil Air Patrol Cadets Win National Growing Beyond the Earth Maker Challenge

July 18, 2022

Mt Airy, MD – On June 21, 2022, cadets of the Mt Airy Composite Squadron of Civil Air Patrol made their final presentation of their winning design for the Fairchild Growing Beyond Earth Maker Challenge ( Miami Florida based Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden has partnered with NASA scientists and engineers to develop food production technologies for long duration space travel. This is year three of the challenge which focused on autonomous robotic planting and harvesting systems.  Participants in the challenge were divided into high school, collegiate and professional divisions.

Cadet Senior Master Sergeant Isabella Tiger, Cadet Technical Sergeant Alexander Rolfe, Cadet Technical Sergeant Graceful Action, Cadet Senior Airman Tanner Matney and Cadet Airman First Class Joyful Action participated in and won the High School Division of the challenge.  Based on results from the first two rounds of the challenge, the cadets selected a cylindrical design as the most space efficient. The plants were Radichetta, Rocket Arugula, Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce, and Grand Rapids Lettuce and planted on the inner circumference of the cylinder. The planting, harvesting and lighting mechanism was mounted in the center of the cylinder. RGB LEDs were chosen as the light source to optimize the wavelength of light for best plant growth.

The cadets made an initial presentation of their design in early 2022 to a panel of scientists from NASA and were chosen as finalists in the High School division of the challenge. A final presentation of the working model of their design was made and chosen as the winner of the high school division.

The Mt. Airy Composite Squadron features both senior and youth programs whose members are drawn from Carroll, Frederick, Howard and Montgomery counties. The Squadron meets Wednesday nights, 6:45 p.m. to 9:15 p.m., at the Izaak Walton League of America, Woodville Road facility. For more information, contact commanding officer, Captain Nathan Rolfe at, Follow Mt Airy squadron on Facebook at or visit the squadron webpage at

Photo from left to right: C/SMSgt Isabella Tiger, C/SAmn Tanner Matney, C/TSgt Graceful Action, C/TSgt Alexander Rolfe (photo credit: 2nd Lt Peter Foiles, Public Affairs Officer, Mt. Airy Composite Squadron)



For More Information:

2nd Lt Peter Foiles, Public Affairs Officer, Mt. Airy Composite Squadron

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