Two agricultural education majors, Kamal Bell of Durham, a graduate student, and Justin Walker of Yanceyville, a junior have been awarded National Black Farmers Association scholarships from the FCA Foundation, the charitable arm of automobile manufacturer FCA US LLC.
Bell, a lateral-entry teacher at Lowe’s Grove Magnet Middle School in Durham, received his bachelor’s in Animal Science Industry, also from A&T’s School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. He said he intends to apply his education toward attaining a teaching license and becoming an agricultural entrepreneur. To start his venture, Bell is finalizing the purchase of land, while he continues to teach biotechnology, animals and anatomy at the middle school.
Walker, who at 23 is already a successful farmer and agricultural entrepreneur, is bucking that trend. His family has retained its Caswell County farmland for several generations, and Walker now is the sole manager, after the 2012 death of his grandfather, John O. “Pete” Walker. With experience growing tobacco, corn and soybeans, Walker is now turning his focus to conventional and organic vegetables. In addition to his college classes, this fall and winter will see him rebuilding a storm-damaged hydroponic greenhouse on his farm, and continuing to refine his mobile farmers-market venture, which he started last spring. That start-up was made possible by a Rural Advancement Foundation International grant, which funded an enclosed trailer. Walker, who accepts SNAP payments, often sets up his mobile market in communities that lack convenient access to fresh vegetables. Walker was also recognized in 2014, for placing second in the annual statewide Collegiate Discussion Meet, sponsored by the North Carolina Farm Bureau. (See http://www.ag.ncat.edu/wp/index.php/news-releases/aggie-comes-away-from-n-c-farm-bureau-competition-with-honors/ )
Bell and Walker were among 19 recipients from across the nation who were selected based upon several criteria, including academic performance, career goals and objectives, demonstrated leadership, and participation in agricultural and community activities. The scholarship was established to encourage more African Americans to pursue the many opportunities that exist in today’s agricultural professions, including food production.
“The plight of the black farmers and the loss of black-owned farms, have been major issues for well over a 100 years,” said John Boyd, Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association. “In 1910, nearly 1 million black farm families owned over 15 million acres of land. Today, less than 45,000 black farm families own 3 million acres. The NBFA Scholarship program will begin to address black land loss.”
Information about how to apply for the 2016 National Black Farmers Association scholarship program will be available in early May at https://scholarsapply.org/blackfarmersassociation/.