ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Through a partnership between the University of South Florida and Yuengling, students have a chance at funds for USF St. Pete’s Brewing Arts program with a scholarship meant to help promote diversity in the brewing industry.
“The beer industry is booming. The beer industry isn’t going anywhere. We’re only going to get bigger here, especially in St. Petersburg and beyond in Florida,” said Khris Johnson, the head brewer and co-owner of Green Bench Brewing Company in St. Pete. “We want as many people to be involved as possible.”
But in that growing industry, Johnson explained the people who mostly make up the workforce.
“It’s a fairly white-dominated, male-dominated industry, from ownership down to truck drivers and bartenders,” said Johnson. “The idea is to kind of just provide as much of an opportunity as we can to diversify that field to make it look like the rest of our lives look and the rest of our communities look.”
The scholarship provided through USF and Yuengling looks to create new opportunities for the next generation of aspiring brewers. The university says a $5,000 Diversity in Brewing scholarship will be given to someone from a traditionally underrepresented population and cover the cost of tuition to USF’s St. Petersburg campus Brewing Arts Certificate program for the upcoming spring semester.
Johnson is also a founding faculty member of the program.
“Whether you’re a man, a woman. No matter what color you are. No matter what your history is or your background, the more diversity that we have, the stronger our industry is going to be,” said Johnson. “I think anybody is going to be able to contribute something really special to what we do.”
The program is 23 weeks of online coursework followed by hands-on training in a brewery. Jennifer Sedillo, the program’s director, says it started in 2015 and was a collaboration between local breweries and the USF St. Pete campus.
Sedillo explains the craft brewing industry is very inclusive and collaborative, but the scholarship is one way to reduce any potential barriers and provide opportunities to help make the industry more diverse.
“Craft brewing is very creative. Very creative, very collaborative,” said Sedillo. “When you have any kind of product that’s being created and it’s artistic and creative, you want to have different perspectives to innovate your product to make better products.”
Students can apply now through January 9th. For more information on the scholarship and how to apply, click here.
“Beer doesn’t discriminate right? Beer is beer. Everyone loves beer," said Johnson. "It’s for everybody, so let’s make sure that everyone has an opportunity to be a part of it."