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Kentucky Ag News Headlines
UK Alum, 4th-Generation Black Farmer Stays Connected Through MANRRS
Kentucky Ag Connection - 02/12/2024

From the professional gridiron to the fields, Sylvester Miller II is making a difference in agriculture and for underrepresented minorities.

In 2008, Miller graduated with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Kentucky Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. Miller was active in the UK Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) program, encouraging and empowering students form underrepresented groups to pursue degrees in agriculture and related fields.

With 16 years of work in corporate agriculture and valuable experiences gained in UK MANRRS under his belt, Miller feels well-prepared to be successful as the new U.S. crop technology market manager at FMC Corporation. The agricultural sciences company advances farming through innovative and sustainable crop protection technologies.

“Being a UK MANRRS member helped prepare me for the workforce and thinking outside the box,” Miller said. “Attending national conferences, competitions and more helped me be successful in the agriculture industry where the University of Kentucky name is well respected.”

In his role, Miller is helping lead the way for three innovative 3D fungicide and insecticide formulations at FMC — Ethos 3D insecticide/fungicide, Capture 3D insecticide and Xyway 3D fungicide.

All part of the 3RIVE 3D application system, the products are a revolutionary at-plant crop protection delivery platform allowing growers to farm faster and more efficiently.

Family influence

Representing four generations, Miller’s agricultural roots and heritage farming date back to slavery where his ancestors cultivated land in Helena, Arkansas. For Miller, his family’s legacy makes him proud, both professionally and personally.

“Due to my family’s history in agriculture during and post-slavery, it makes me prideful to work in an industry that was literally built on the blood, sweat and tears of my ancestors,” Miller said. “I’ve always carried a sense of pride in everything I do, including my career, academics and sports.”

Growing up and attending Mount Carmel High School in Chicago, Miller was originally recruited to play college football at UK as an offensive lineman.

Finding agriculture and MANRRS on campus

Upon arriving on campus in 1999, Miller, who was a first-generation student, didn’t know that agriculture was even a degree option. After speaking with Susan Skees, current undergraduate academic coordinator at Martin-Gatton CAFE, Miller fondly remembered landscaping as a kid, visiting the family farm and realizing that a career in agriculture is “more than just being a farmer.”

After changing his major to agricultural economics, Miller wanted to get more involved and discovered the UK MANRRS program — promoting the advancement of ethnic and cultural groups underrepresented in agricultural and related sciences.

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