The goal of the project is to increase the number of underrepresented student graduates prepared to work and perform research in the food and agricultural scientific workforce.
Researchers from Texas Tech University and New Mexico State University are teaming up for a project designed to attract and increase enrollment of underrepresented students prepared to bolster the profession of food and agricultural sciences.
College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources (CASNR) scholars Rudy Ritz, an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Education & Communication (AEC); Courtney Gibson, an associate professor in the AEC; and Donna McCallister, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics (AAE), received $446,865 from a grant awarded to both Texas Tech and New Mexico State for the project.
The grant comes from the Hispanic-Serving Institutions Grants Program from within the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
“This program will provide and evaluate enhanced undergraduate research experience to students in agriculture, food and natural resources,” Ritz said. “Moreover, a collaborative effort to recruit future scientists in these areas among Texas Tech and New Mexico State students is a goal for the team.”
The project, “Young Agri-Scientists: Connecting diverse students to each other and food, agricultural and natural resources systems and sciences careers through experiential learning in mentored research and science communication,” is led by former CASNR interim dean and AEC chairman Steve Fraze, who retired from Texas Tech in January and is now the head of the Agricultural and Extension Education Department at NMSU. USDA-NIFA awarded Fraze an overall grant of $975,314 for the project.
“We propose experiential learning through undergraduate research by pairing the student with a faculty mentor,” Ritz said. “The goal is to increase diverse student graduates to meet the global need for the leading agricultural scientists who are knowledgeable in the research as well as the diffusion of research through scientific communication.”
The collaboration seeks to increase the diversity of graduates and prepare them to become the next generation of agricultural scientists well-versed in systems and science research in the areas of food, agriculture and natural resources.
“This program will provide, evaluate and continuously enhance transformative learning opportunities and leadership development with an emphasis on food, agriculture, natural resources and human sciences for increasingly diverse and socially mobile student bodies at NMSU and Texas Tech,” Fraze said. “We propose a food, agriculture, natural resources and human sciences experiential learning program with an emphasis on building a student-community cohort engaged in mentored research and science communication.”