The Farm Service Agency was proud to lead the way recently for USDA representation at a major national Hispanic educator’s event. The occasion was the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Annual Convention, held this year in San Diego. The FSA California State Office was asked to coordinate our attendance and I was detailed to set up and staff our booth alongside other California staff with FSA and Rural Development. FSA’s booth seemed to be the focal point for student attention and several other USDA agencies were also successful in sharing information with those attending.
The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), was established in 1986 with a founding membership of 18 institutions. Because of HACU’s exemplary leadership on behalf of the nation’s youngest and fastest-growing population, the association rapidly grew in numbers and national impact.
Today, HACU represents nearly 450 colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher education success in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Latin America, Spain and Portugal. Although our member institutions in the U. S. represent less than 10 percent of all higher education institutions nationwide, together they are home to more than two-thirds of all Hispanic college students. HACU is the only national educational association that represents Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs).
Our nation’s economic and social success rests on the level of skills and knowledge attained by Hispanics, now the nation’s largest minority population. Education, indisputably, is the key. HACU is committed to Hispanic success in education, from kindergarten through graduate school and into the work force of tomorrow. Everyone has a stake in HACU’s crucial goals: to promote the development of member colleges and universities; to improve access to and the quality of postsecondary educational opportunities for Hispanic students; and to meet the needs of business, industry and government through the development and sharing of resources, information and expertise.
Throughout the weekend we were approached by eager students of different educational backgrounds that were ready to discuss career and internship opportunities. We were able to promote the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) with the interested students and share information about County Operations Trainee (COT) with college graduates.
The students consisted of college freshmen through seniors and we also talked to college graduates who were prepared with resumes and many questions. Questions such as, How can I get a job/internship with USDA? What do you do? How did you get your job? Are you hiring now? What kind of experience can I get with your agency?
The dialogue with the students allowed us to emphasize that although our name has “farm” in it, most employees don’t work on the farm and that we employ thousands of employees in a variety of occupations. Overall it was a wonderful experience to talk to so many bright minds that are interested in learning more about our agencies and to provide these students with information on the available support that the USDA can provide through internship and career opportunities.