Enticed by the challenges the agriculture industry faces, agricultural economics senior Jaime Luke attended the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Student Diversity Program in Washington, D.C. this semester.
The USDA Student Diversity Program brings together 20 undergraduate and 10 graduate students from across the nation to spend a week at USDA to engage in various learning opportunities. Students learn about the different agencies within USDA and what they do, as well as agribusiness, scientific research and agricultural policy. The week-long program concludes with USDA’s largest annual meeting, the Agricultural Outlook Forum, which provides an overview of all areas of agriculture, both foreign and domestic. This year’s program took place from Feb. 19 through Feb. 23.
Applicants for the program wrote an essay about agriculture as a career. The Stanberry, Mo., native chose to write about how agriculture is currently an exciting field to join because of the challenges the industry faces.
“Agriculture is an enticing field to get into because you know you are always going to be challenged,” Luke said. “Especially with the growing population and all of the environmental challenges we will have to overcome.”
After spending the summer interning in Washington, D.C., with the American Farm Bureau Federation, Luke was excited to return to the nation’s capital.
Luke said the program didn’t disappoint and that she learned a lot about commodities produced in Missouri and those outside of the Show-Me State.
“It gave me a global view of what’s happening in agriculture rather than just what’s happening in Missouri and in the U.S.,” she said.
For instance, she attended a session on agriculture in Brazil and learned how Brazil is working to increase their infrastructure to become even more competitive in agriculture.
“Getting that big-picture view of agriculture was really beneficial to me,” Luke said.
Luke said she enjoyed the opportunities to network with USDA employees and peers from other colleges and the breadth of knowledge gained from the program, whether about USDA or current trends in agriculture.
Students interested in participating in the USDA Student Diversity Program should look for announcement of the program in early November. Luke encouraged students to submit the application, which includes an essay, in Mid-November to Dr. Garton in order to be chosen to represent the University of Missouri.
Luke is a 2014 graduate of Stanberry High School and her parents are Jim and Becky Luke.