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Category: Education

How College Catapults Students to Ag Careers

Gracie Valdez explains how traveling around the world helped her to want to pursue a career in international agricultural development and trade.

Growing up, the question of the day often started with “why” or “how” because I loved discovering things. Though my specific interests morphed from archaeology to geology to biology, I knew I wanted to be a scientist since the 5th grade.  In college, I chose to study biology, which exposed me to many different aspects of the field.  College was the springboard that sharpened my focus and led me to becoming the ecosystem ecologist I am today.  Recognizing National College Signing Day, I hope that today’s inbound students consider studying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects to help meet our future agricultural challenges. Read more »

Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Find One-Stop Shop in Farm Answers

Dairy farm with red barn in autumn

FarmAnswers.org is a clearinghouse of information to help farmers and ranchers better manage their operations. Photo courtesy of Jeff Reisdorfer

The following guest blog from a web communications coordinator at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Farm Financial Management highlights the FarmAnswers.org information clearinghouse for new and beginning farmers and ranchers. Farm Answers is a vital element of the USDA-wide effort to make it easier for people to find USDA programs and services.

By Jeff Reisdorfer, University of Minnesota

(The U.S. Department of Agriculture on April 11 opened a new information clearinghouse for new agriculture producers, FarmAnswers.org.)

Farmers and ranchers, like owners of other start-up companies, face serious challenges, including the need for easy to access, reliable information and technical assistance for getting their businesses started.

FarmAnswers.org is a website clearinghouse where farmers and ranchers can find online courses, videos, presentations, apps, and other materials – more than 3,175 at this time – to answer farming and ranching questions.  FarmAnswers is supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through its Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). Read more »

Honoring my Teachers, Sharing Traditions on the San Carlos Apache Reservation

USDA Deputy Under Secretary Arthur “Butch” Blazer with a group of San Carlos Apache Reservation fourth graders

USDA Deputy Under Secretary Arthur “Butch” Blazer is all smiles with a group of San Carlos Apache Reservation fourth graders as they hold up their Every Kid in a Park passes. Smokey Bear got in on the fun, too, and provided the kids with a special packet of information about wildfire prevention. (U.S. Forest Service)

With more than 40 years of professional experience working in the field of natural resources, I am sometimes asked to share the personal outdoor experiences I had as a tribal member growing up on my reservation. When the request involves children, and those children are Native American, I am especially honored because in my culture the elders share traditional teachings of how we are connected to nature, both through stories and traditional songs.

As we celebrate Earth Day 2016, I am reminded of a recent invitation from the U.S. Forest Service Tonto National Forest and Smokey Bear to speak at a career day on the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona. I had an audience of 180 tribal fourth graders from Rice Elementary School to share my experiences growing up on a reservation and the lessons I learned about the outdoors. Read more »

4-H, Be SAFE Helps Develop Youth/Adult Partnerships to Help Prevent Bullying

A man working with youth

Research shows that adults working with youth strengthens bullying prevention efforts. Photo courtesy of 4-H.

(4-H’ers from across the country, U.S. territories, and Canada are converging on Washington, DC, for the 4-H National Conference, April 9-14.  4-H National Conference is the premier citizenship and civic engagement opportunity for 4-H members.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) provides funding and national program leadership for 4-H and is the home of 4-H National Headquarters.  This blog has also been published at StopBullying.gov.)

Every day, many young people feel unsafe, disconnected, unsupported, and harmed because of bullying, harassment, and other forms of violence. Be SAFE: Safe, Affirming, and Fair Environments is a Michigan State University Extension initiative that helps communities learn about and address these issues. Be SAFE taps the wisdom and resiliency of young people and invites youth and adults to work in partnership to create relationships and settings that are physically and emotionally safe. Read more »

USDA and MANRRS Help Cultivate the Next Generation of Agricultural Leaders

A USDA scientist teaching MANRRS students about tomato grafting

A USDA scientist teaches MANRRS students about tomato grafting at the High School Symposium.

Recently, the National Society of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) hosted its 31st National Career Fair and Training Conference. MANRRS is a non-profit organization that promotes academic and professional advancement by empowering minorities in agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences, and has more than 1,650 members in 38 states.  Welcoming people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, MANRRS works to increase diversity of talent in the field of agriculture.

As a longstanding partner with this organization, USDA helped sponsor the 2016 MANRRS conference, where over 950 participants from across the Nation gathered to discuss ways to grow the next generation of leaders. Participants ranging from high school students to professional members explored the latest developments in the agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences along with professional development, networking, and mentoring. Read more »

Developing New Leaders in a Global Landscape

Florida A&M University students

Florida A&M University students participated in a program in South Africa to improve that country’s agricultural performance in table grapes. (Photo courtesy of Harriet Paul)

Historically black colleges and universities, particularly the “1890 land-grant universities (LGUs),” have conducted groundbreaking studies to further advance agricultural research in this country, such as eradicating peanut allergens and food borne illnesses.  Now, they’re making significant impacts abroad by strengthening U.S. global outreach in agribusiness.

In summers of 2011 to 2015, Florida A&M University (FAMU) students, in collaboration with University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), took part in an 18-day program in South Africa to improve that country’s agricultural performance in table grape and aquaculture production and educational value chains.  The trip was supported by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), through its 1890 Capacity Building Program, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Farmer-to-Farmer Program. Read more »