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USDA Names Ag Outlook Forum Future Leaders Program Winners
Kentucky Ag Connection - 02/02/2023

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has selected 30 university students who will attend USDA’s 2023 Agricultural Outlook Forum (AOF) as winners of the USDA Future Leaders in Agriculture program. These undergraduate and graduate students from land-grant, non-land-grant colleges of agriculture and Hispanic-serving institutions will receive a weeklong trip to Washington, D.C., and attend the 99th annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, USDA’s largest annual meeting. This year’s forum convenes on Feb. 23-24 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va.

“These young people are the next generation of agriculture, and it is important for USDA to support their training,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Through the Future Leaders Program, USDA is expanding career opportunities in USDA-related fields and building an agriculture workforce that reflects the diversity of the American people.”

Now in its 16th year, the USDA Future Leaders in Agriculture Program introduces undergraduate and graduate students to the work of USDA and partner organizations. The program also provides real-world learning opportunities in contemporary agribusiness, scientific research, and agricultural policy to 21 undergraduates and 9 graduate students who are majoring in agriculture-related subjects, including business, economics, communications, nutrition, food science and veterinary studies. Applicants submit essays on agricultural careers and challenges. During their visit to Washington, D.C., students will participate in a USDA briefing and discuss career development with agriculture leaders in academia, government, and industry. They will tour the nation’s capital and attend the forum, where Vilsack will present their awards.

“I am very pleased to see such a group of promising young students showing a strong interest in the agriculture sector and USDA’s work, and I am looking forward to meeting them in person at our annual Agricultural Outlook Forum next month,” said USDA Chief Economist Seth Meyer.

Among the winners, Megan Cherry is an Agricultural Communications major at the University of Georgia. In her essay on “Agriculture as a Career,” she wrote “Being a first-generation college student, I can faithfully say I would not be where I am today if it were not for agriculture and all the career agriculturalists who choose to invest in me. Agriculture as a career is a complex statement but ultimately, I could not imagine a more rewarding career path.”

Undergraduate Winners

- T’Liyah Bigelow, Virginia State University

- Kortni Blalock, North Carolina A&T State University

- Charles Carpenter III, Prairie View A&M University

- Megan Cherry, University of Georgia

- Keshauna Davis, South Carolina State University

Kenneth Frazier III, Alcorn State University

- Cameron Geddie, University of Maryland Eastern Shore

- Sophia Goins, University of Maryland Eastern Shore

- Makaila Holston Smith, Pennsylvania State University

- Amahry Jackson, Southern University

- Christian Jacobs, Southern University

- Tahirah Jones, North Carolina A&T State University

- Ellie McGowan, Murray State University

- Isaiah McKenzie, University of Maryland Eastern Shore

- Amir McKinstry, Tuskegee University

- Olivia Phillips, University of Georgia

- Kamryn Poole, Tennessee State University

- Abigail Putnam, University of Florida

- Elizabeth Putnam, University of Florida

- Robert Thomas, Prairie View A&M University

- Kailyn Wrighten, South Carolina State University

Graduate Winners

- Montana Altman, University of California – Davis

CheKenna Fletcher, Tennessee State University

- Grace Greene, University of Minnesota

- Caleb Hale, Montana State University

- Merideth Harvey, Texas A&M University – Kingsville

- Karina Hissen, Texas A&M University

- Jerry Kennedy, Murray State University

- Trevor Palone, Montana State University

Allison Watts, Texas A&M University – Kingsville

The Future Leaders in Agriculture Program is supported by academic institutions, corporations, and government institutions dedicated to promoting the education of the next generation of agriculturalists. This year’s sponsoring organizations include the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Farm Credit. USDA sponsors include the Agricultural Research Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Economic Research Service, Foreign Agricultural Service, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Office of the Chief Economist, and the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement.

The Agricultural Outlook Forum is the USDA’s largest annual meeting, attracting as many as 2,000 attendees from the U.S. and abroad. The forum highlights key issues and topics within the agricultural community, offering a platform for conversation among producers, processors, policymakers, government officials, and non-governmental organizations, both foreign and domestic. Follow the conversation at #AgOutlook23 on USDA’s Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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