The United States Department of Agriculture has awarded Texas State $300,000 to increase global agricultural competency for minority students, with a focus on Latinx students.
The training will help give students awareness of the cultural and scientific interactions within present-day agriculture. The program will have four main components to engage minority students including departmental videos and job postings.
Isis Mares, English sophomore, animal science minor and treasurer of Latinas Unidas, said as a minor within the agriculture department, the USDA grant for the program is a great way to ensure the Latinx community can get more involved in global agriculture.
“[The Latinx] community is not well represented in many different [careers], including agriculture,” Mares said. “Sometimes a bad connotation is brought against the Latinx community in trying to study agriculture. This is a great opportunity given via the support of others to finish [the degree].”
The department will choose 20 students to take part in leadership training from experts across the world. Out of the 20 chosen students, 10 will attend a study abroad in the Philippines and Bangladesh to gain hands-on experience on the global scale of agricultural innovations. The other 10 students will attend the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, D.C., to learn about trends and policies within the industry.
Madan Dey, chair of Texas State’s agriculture department, said students should be well-versed in international agricultural procedures.
“This project will train our students to have global competency in agriculture,” Dey said. “Most agricultural jobs are global in nature, so we must train our students to be familiar with it.”
Jaime Chahin, dean of the College of Applied Arts, said it is important the university supplements curriculum taught in the classroom for students through grant opportunities.
“To give students the opportunity to study abroad and work with faculty internationally related to the food and agriculture industry is very important,” Chahin said. “We spend a lot of time submitting grant proposals in [the College of Applied Arts] from federal and state agencies because they help support faculty-conducted research as well.”
The department will be advertising and releasing the application for the program in the upcoming weeks. Participants will be chosen based on their academic standing within the university and their willingness to participate internationally.