2015 AgDiscovery set for June 13-26 at UAPB; application deadline March 6

Carol Sanders | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences

Students participate in a plant inspection exercise at UAPB during the AgDiscovery summer program.

Students participate in a plant inspection exercise at UAPB during the AgDiscovery summer program.

PINE BLUFF, Ark. – Unless they grew up on a farm, many teenagers never consider a career in agriculture. But some U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees hope that will change.

With many plant scientists, veterinarians and wildlife biologists employed by USDA retiring, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has teamed up with the School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) to once again sponsor AgDiscovery.

A science and career exploration residential program, AgDiscovery will be June 13-26 at UAPB. The program is for teens ages 14-17 interested in learning about plants and animals, careers in agriculture and high school courses that will prepare them to do so.

Students still submit their application packets directly to APHIS and get to select one of 17 host universities nationwide ranging from Hawaii to Florida. Different this year is that applications and letters of reference should no longer be mailed separately as in years passed. Everything must be included in one large envelope. No faxed, emailed or hand-delivered applications will be accepted. Students may only apply to one program per year and may not repeat participation in a program within the same discipline.

Students spend two weeks on their host university campus and learn from APHIS professionals and university professors including practicing entomologists, plant pathologists, wildlife biologists and veterinarians. Students participate in hands-on labs, workshops and field trips as well as in character and team building activities.

Students selected for AgDiscovery pay only the cost of transportation to and from their host university. Tuition, room and board, and supplies for the two-week program are covered by APHIS.

A complete application packet consists of an application form, three character references and a two-page essay, “Why I Want to Attend the AgDiscovery Program at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (or the host university of your choice) and What I Want to Learn.” Students should include information on hobbies, interests and career goals.

The packet must be postmarked by March 6 and sent directly to Sophia Kirby, USDA-APHIS Office of the Administrator, Office of Civil Rights, Diversity, and Inclusion, 4700 River Road, Unit 92, Riverdale, MD 20737-1234.

“It is very important that students follow application directions carefully as APHIS will discard incomplete applications,” says Willie Columbus, research assistant and educational outreach coordinator at UAPB.

Application forms and a brochure are available on the web at www.aphis.usda.gov/agdiscovery. Or, students can contact Columbus at columbusw@uapb.edu or (870) 575-7252.

More information is also available from APHIS (301) 851-4199 or email agdiscovery@aphis.usda.gov.

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