USDA Invests in a More Diverse Agricultural Science Workforce

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced grants to increase women and minority representation in the agricultural science workforce. Funding is made through NIFA’s Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Fields Program (WAMS).

“America’s human capital is our greatest resource,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “NIFA investments are helping introduce more women and minorities to the agricultural sciences so they might contribute to future agricultural science innovations.” 

The Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Fields Program supports research and extension activities to increase the number of women and underrepresented minorities from rural areas who will pursue and complete postsecondary degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

In fiscal year 2017, four grants totaling more than $378,000 were made to WAMS projects. They are:

  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, $95,447
  • Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, $94,378
  • University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, $94,387
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia, $94,388

The University of Florida will bring mentors to community settings to introduce rural, minority youth to STEM career opportunities. A Montana State University project will introduce female students to agricultural science career opportunities through an online course, internships, networking, and a public summit. More information on these grants is available on the NIFA website.

Past WAMS projects include a Purdue University mentoring program for women and minority graduate students in the College of Agriculture. A Tarleton State University project recruited women and minority students and offered them research and training opportunities in the animal and food sciences.

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