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USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture announces $945,000 in funding to recruit and educate a more diverse agricultural workforce

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced $945,400 in available funding to help foster the next generation of multicultural scholars in agricultural sciences.  Funding is made through NIFA’s Higher Education Multicultural Scholars Program (MSP).

“The Multicultural Scholars Program seeks to help young people reach their potential in the agricultural sciences,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “It is important to develop the most diverse talent pool possible and show these students the abundant opportunities in the agricultural sector.”

The Higher Education Multicultural Scholars Program (MSP) helps colleges and universities recruit and retain multicultural scholars who may pursue degrees in food and agricultural sciences disciplines or the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. Projects may involve scholarships to support recruiting, engaging, retaining, mentoring, and training of committed, eligible multicultural scholars.

Eligible applicants include land-grant institutions, colleges and universities with significant minority enrollments and the capacity to teach food and agricultural sciences, and other colleges and universities with the capacity to teach food and agricultural sciences. Additionally, research foundations maintained by an eligible college or university are eligible to submit undergraduate and/or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) training proposals under this RFA. Applicants should be institutions that confer an undergraduate or DVM degree in at least one of the disciplines in the food and agricultural sciences.

The deadline for applications is October 31, 2017. See the request for applications for details.

Among previous projects, North Carolina State University’s Poultry Science Department recruited five multicultural scholars into their program. Three graduated within four years, while the remaining two will graduate next year with double majors. Over the course of the project, the department has seen a steady increase in its ability to attract and retain additional students from underrepresented groups, and the program is now comprised of approximately 20 percent underrepresented students.

Oregon State University offers scholarships to undergraduate students from groups underrepresented in agriculture, natural resources, food science, or human health, and nutrition. They have developed an innovative and interdisciplinary undergraduate curriculum in renewable materials, and are actively recruiting more multicultural students to build the pipeline of professionals in this area. In recent years, the university has awarded 27 scholarships to MSP students pursuing BioResource Research (BRR), an interdisciplinary biosciences major centered on student research.

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