Fall is just around the corner and students across the country are back in school. At the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), we are looking forward to our own school year activities. From internships to mentoring programs and outreach, AMS knows how important enrichment programs and real world experiences are to the future of U.S. agriculture.
Our agency partners with universities and institutions to conduct research and foster student interest in the agricultural industry. A recently updated program with Fresno State University provides scholarship opportunities for students pursuing degrees in agriculture, food, natural resources or other related fields. Students in this program transition into full-time positions within the agency after they earn their degrees.
AMS also has partnerships with schools like Tuskegee University and Texas A&M University-College Station so that students can take advantage of experiential learning opportunities while serving as an intern for the agency. This year, AMS representatives met with key staff at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M., to share information about opportunities for students. The meeting marked the start of an informal partnership to increase student interest in AMS as a future employer of choice.
Students often return for a second internship with AMS, and one of our programs invited returning students to be virtual interns during the school year. Many of these internships have led to full time positions after the students finished their degrees. In fact, in the past three years nearly thirty interns were hired by AMS after graduation.
AMS also participates in programs like the USDA/1890 National Scholars Program to make sure that the agency attracts students with diverse backgrounds and experience to its internship programs. High school students are also a part of the AMS educational outreach plan. Close to USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C., we developed partnerships with the Columbia Heights Educational Campus and the Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy to connect employees with high school students. Career days and career shadowing opportunities let AMS employees share their knowledge and experience with students. Several employees volunteer as mentors, encouraging first generation college students to finish their degrees.
To support science and agriculture careers, AMS employees also visit high school campuses and programs. Events like the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Convention give us the chance to meet and share ideas with the future leaders of the agriculture industry.
With strong internship programs and educational outreach, the agricultural industry as a whole benefits from the sharing and cultivation of new ideas and new expertise. Connecting students to mentors and giving them the opportunity to gain on the job experience is just one of the ways that AMS hopes to have a positive impact on the future of agriculture.