CAES student writes his own ticket to USDA diversity program

Jabril Wright, who is majoring in agricultural and environmental systems with a concentration in environmental studies, is headed to Washington, D.C., thanks to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Student Diversity Program.

Dr. Antoine Alston, professor and associate dean for academics, and Larry Hartsfield, the CAES’s liaison for the USDA 1890 Program, helped Wright apply to the program. The session provides participants a weeklong trip to Washington capped by their attendance at the Agricultural Outlook Forum, the USDA’s largest annual meeting, Feb. 22-23 in Arlington, Va. Now in its 11th year, the program gives undergraduate and graduate students real-world learning opportunities in contemporary agribusiness, scientific research and agricultural policy.

Thirty students from land-grant universities, Hispanic-serving institutions and non-land-grant colleges of agriculture were selected for the program based on their essays about agricultural careers and challenges.

“I believe that conserving our natural resources today means preserving resources for our future generations,” Wright, a junior from Orangeburg, S.C., wrote in his essay. “From restoring wildlife habitats to helping farmers maximize their resources, I am passionate about learning new ways to reduce our ecological footprint to make sure we have a sustainable future. I want to leave my mark on the world by doing my part to bring balance to the environment through conservation and restoration.”

After he completes his bachelor’s degree, Wright hopes to work for the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service while attending graduate school at N.C. A&T. He plans to continue working for the Natural Resources Conservation Service long term.

During their visit to Washington, participants in the Student Diversity Program will take part in a USDA briefing and discussion of career opportunities with agriculture leaders in academia, government and industry, as well as tour the nation’s capital.

“These students are the next generation of agriculture, and it is important for the USDA to support their training as future agriculture professionals,” said USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson. “At the Ag Outlook Forum, these students will hear current leaders share their vision for agriculture as they begin to map out their own careers.”