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Structured Educational Program to Lock-in Students to USDA Food Safety Professions

Investigators
Anoruo, Ambrose
Institutions
Delaware State University
Start date
2006
End date
2009
Objective
  1. To establish a student training collaboration in agriculture and food safety with government scientists
  2. To establish a working collaboration with the HBCU member institutions of the SRESFS
  3. To recruit seniors who have attended two summers of the SRESFS programs from the HBCU member institutions
  4. To admit the recruited seniors to the MS degree program in agriculture at DSU
  5. To advice and mentor the students so that they graduate with MS degree in agriculture with focus on food safety
More information
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY:
(A) Enrollment of minority students in agricultural programs nation-wide has declined from 1993 to 2000 (REEIS 2005). Innovative ways to recruit minority students to agriculture are required and this problem will be addressed in this proposal.

(B) Number of minority students who complete the SRESFS programs through SCSU does not translate to the number of minority students available for USDA related jobs. The students represent a huge number of undergraduates who have had rudimentary preparation in environmental and agricultural sciences. They need to be grounded and locked-in for USDA professions. This proposal will also address this problem (A) The project will recruit underrepresented students beyond the known 1890 Land-Grant Institutions. This project, at the end of two years, will make available to the USDA workforce specially trained minority students with MS degrees in agriculture with concentration in food safety. The project will turn out well trained and qualified underrepresented African Americans for the nation's food safety workforce. The students trained through this program will be available for employment by the states and federal agencies and thus the program has significant national implication.

APPROACH: DSU has already applied to become a member of the SRESFS and will be admitted to full membership. Through its membership DSU will establish working collaboration with the other HBCU member institutions and the federal agency partners of the SRESFS. Drs. Howard Q. Zhang, Peggy M. Tomasula and John Luchansky of the ARS have agreed to work with the students as well as serve on their theses committees. These scientists will become Adjunct Professors at the College of Agriculture and Related Sciences, Delaware State University. The SRESFS member institutions are spread throughout the southeast with the 22 HBCUs spread in the states of South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Alabama and Tennessee. Two faculty members, Dr. Deborah Cook, from Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA and Mrs. Florence Anoruo, ABD, from Claflin University, Orangeburg, SC will be responsible for student recruitment from the Field Station member institutions. Both Dr. Cook and Mrs. Anoruo have been on the Field Station faculty for more than seven years and their institutions are among the HBCU member institutions of the SRESFS. These two faculty members will recruit six students who have completed two summers at the SRESFS and graduated with degrees in biology or chemistry in May, 2007. The students will be involved in research with the faculty members in the summer of 2007 at the SRESFS. Also, the students will, under the supervision of these faculty members, complete the DSU graduate application package for admission to graduate school in August, 2007. Dr. Richard Barczewski, Chair of the Department of Agriculture and Natural Sciences at DSU will be responsible for student admissions. He will also make the final decision on each student before the student is admitted into the summer program by either Dr. Cook or Mrs. Anoruo. This will ensure that the students have the required qualification for admission into the MS degree program at DSU. Also, each admitted student must sign a five-year binding contract to finish the program (two years) and work for the USDA (three years) before full admission is granted. However if the USDA does not provide job opportunity within six months after graduation, the student will be released of all contract obligations. Dr. Barczewski will also serve on students' theses committees as well as appoint DSU faculty advisors for the students. Dr. Kenneth Bell, Dean and Vice President for Agriculture at DSU will be the signatory for all working and collaboration documents on behalf of DSU. He will sign SRESFS membership documents as well as other contract agreements between DSU and the other project partners. Dr. Ambrose O. Anoruo, Associate Dean for Research, will serve as the PI for the project and be responsible for writing all project reports as well as act as the liaison between the federal scientists and DSU. Dr. Anoruo will also represent DSU on the SRESFS Advisory Board. The capstone of this project is student recruitment, education and retention and so student involvement is littered in every aspect of the project.

PROGRESS: 2007/09 TO 2008/08
The objectives of this project include: 1. To establish a student training collaboration in agriculture and food safety with government scientists 2. To establish a working collaboration with the HBCU member institutions of the Savannah River Environmental Sciences Field Station (SRESFS) 3. To recruit seniors who have attended two summers of the SRESFS programs from the HBCU member institutions 4. To admit the recruited seniors to the MS degree program in agriculture at DSU 5. To advice and mentor the students so that they graduate with MS degree in agriculture with focus on food safety. Four of 5 project objectives have been met so this progress report will center on the fifth. Six students have been recruited as planned. Five students started in the fall of 2007 and one in the fall of 2008. The first five students have completed one year of the MS program in food safety and have moved to the ARS Lab in Wyndmoor, PA for their theses research. They are mentored by the ARS scientists. The last student in the program is in her first semester of the MS in Food Safety. It is important to note here that Delaware State University, College of Agriculture and Related Sciences has now broadened its MS program to include food science and other agricultural disciplines. This was not the case until this funding was secured. The College now offers MS degree in agriculture with different concentrations. The MS degree in Plant Science was renamed (following univerity academic policies' approval) MS Agriculture so students could work towards their specialized field. Thus the College offers MS Agriculture-Food Science, MS Agriculrture-Soils Science, MS Agriculture-Aminal Science, MS Agriculture-Horticulture etc. This is as a result of this project and so the graduate degree programs in the College have expanded, and student enrollment has equally increased.

PRODUCTS: 1. Six students trained in food safety/food science, a need area of the USDA. 2. New graduate program in food safety at Delaware State University 3. Enhanced close collaboration with the ARS staff involving direct involvement of USDA scientists in graduate student training. This project was designed such that the training of the students was divided 50/50 between the University and USDA.

OUTCOMES: 1. Trained and skilled food and agriculture workforce with advanced degrees in USDA critical need area 2. Delaware State University now has a graduate program in food safety/food science

DISSEMINATION ACTIVITIES: Dissemination activities include: 1. Seminar discussions with the ARS staff 2. Seminar presentation at the Savannah River Environmental Sciences Field Station with the 30 member institutions 3. A planned publication in an appropriate education journal

FUTURE INITIATIVES: Delaware State University, College of Agriculture and Related Sciences will continue to recruit students for the newly established graduate degree in food safety/food science.

IMPACT: 2007/09 TO 2008/08
1. Six minority students will graduate with MS degrees
2. Trained students are available for USDA workforce
3. Graduate program at Delaware State University has been expanded
4. Graduate student population has increased due to the new program

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
DELX0027-06-06
Accession number
207987
Categories
Natural Toxins
Chemical Contaminants
Education and Training
Bacterial Pathogens