Carol Sanders | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences
PINE BLUFF, Ark. – Twenty junior and senior high school students from five states including Arkansas spent two weeks living on the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) campus as part of the AgDiscovery two-week residential career exploration program.
Daytime hours were spent interacting with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) professionals at their respective work places and with university professors as the teens learned about careers with USDA and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the college courses necessary to qualify for those careers.
The teens banded geese, extracted strawberry DNA, dissected fish and received tips on imported fire ant biocontrol. Students also toured UAPB’s Aquaculture Research Station and the Arkansas State Vet Tech School in Beebe, and they learned about wildlife management at airports while at the Little Rock Air Force Base.
Not only did they tour Heifer Village’s Little Rock campus, they left the comforts of their dorm to spend a night at the Heifer Ranch where they got a taste of life in developing countries and gained a new appreciation of life in the United States.
“Students seemed so bright for their ages,” said Willie Columbus, research assistant/educational outreach coordinator. “At times, I was awed listening to them. They were so diverse, well-rounded and well-traveled; one had visited all 50 states. They became very close instantly and vowed to remain friends and visit each other. To have students learn about careers in agriculture while making lifelong friends is what I envisioned for the program when I became coordinator five years ago.”
There is no charge for the two-week program, but participants are responsible for transportation to and from campus. For more information about AgDiscovery, visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/agdiscovery. UAPB has been one of the host universities since 2008 and was the first university west of the Mississippi to host AgDiscovery.