The Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) College of Agriculture and Food Sciences (CAFS) hosted parents, students and faculty during the CAFS Youth Development Summer Institute’s 2014 Summit held June 21. The Summit allowed pre-college students and parents across CAFS Youth Development Summer Program areas to showcase what they learned about career opportunities related to STEAM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture and Mathematics). The theme for this year’s summit was “Need Food, Shelter, Clothing, and Technology? There’s an AG for that!”
“Most students come to the program with a specific major or career path in mind and a general concept of what agriculture and food sciences is all about, ” said Program Director Gilda Phills. “However, in most cases, their career paths have not been well thought out, and they have a misconception of these disciplines because of little or no exposure to the various career options in their specific areas of interest.”
The CAFS Youth Development Summer Institute Programs provide students with exposure and experiential learning across the various academic disciplines that are offered throughout FAMU’s College of Agriculture and Food Sciences. During the Youth Summit, student participants are given an opportunity to tell what they have learned through their camp participation.
“In this highly technological age we live in, many students do not know there is much more to agriculture and food sciences than just farming and cooking. These academic disciplines are the foundation of the basic sciences and technology that combine to feed, clothe and shelter over six billion people around the world daily,” said Bobby Phills, Ph.D., project director for the CAFS Youth Development Summer Institute, which is funded by a federal grant.
The Summer Institute Program is a significant part of the university’s recruitment efforts as the majority of participants continue on to enroll in studies at FAMU CAFS.
“It is gratifying to hear them talk about how their knowledge has changed and how they now want to pursue a career in one or more of the alternative agriculture and food science areas they learned about in the program,” said Gilda Phills.
Several speakers participated in the summit to share words of wisdom. While encouraging the students, Robert Taylor, Ph.D., CAFS dean and director of land-grant programs, referenced FAMU alumnus John W. Thompson, who went from a student with ambition to now chairman of Microsoft.
“The selection of a FAMU graduate as chairman of Microsoft, one of the world’s most accomplished software companies, is a testament to the preparation students receive at FAMU,” said Taylor. “When a FAMU graduate is chosen to lead a company formerly led by Bill Gates, that tells you what a degree from FAMU can do for you.”
Participants also heard from Johana Briscoe, Ph.D., emergency program manager for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), about opportunities for employment in federal government in the field of agriculture and related sciences. Briscoe explained that she looks forward to FAMU graduates one day doing what she does.
USDA APHIS is an avid supporter of FAMU and actively supports the AG Discovery summer program as well as ongoing research partnerships, USDA 1890 National Scholar Program sponsorship and student internships.
Summer youth development programs represented at the 2014 CAFS Youth Summit included:
· AG Discovery – provides exposure to animal sciences with emphases in medical health care experiences. (Funded in part by USDA APHIS).
· Forestry and Conservation Education (FACE) – provides exposure to natural resource management and plant genetics. Funded in part by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
· Raising Agriculturally & Technologically Literate Rattlers (RATLR) – provides exposure to agricultural, food, and related science careers and educational opportunities. Funded in part by a grant from USDA NIFA.
· Black Male College Explorers – prevents at-risk black males from dropping out of high school, facilitates their admission to college, and significantly increases their chances of earning a college degree. The program is coordinated by FAMU’s College of Education.
Students from each of the above groups presented information and visuals on their summer experiences. The highlight of the day included a Quiz Bowl Competition for the prize of a coveted annual trophy that their sponsoring college can showcase for an entire year. AG Discovery and RATLR and the Black Male College Explorers each competed for three rounds of questions on agricultural sciences. This year’s winner was the RATLR team, consisting of rising high school seniors and incoming college freshmen. CAFS Ag Discovery team won last year, and the Black Male College Explorers won the previous year.
There are a total of six summer youth programs available through FAMU’s College of Agriculture and Food Sciences: 4-H Youth Program, AG Discovery, Ag. Tech Century 21, FACE, Food Science Summer Enrichment Program, and RATLR. For more information, please contact Gilda S. Phills at (850) 412-5634 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the Black Male College Explorers, please contact A. Manatee at (850) 561-2407.