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Agriculture receives USDA grant to aid Hispanic transfer students

By Kristina Kenney
University News Service
September 15, 2011

Texas State University-San Marcos Department of Agriculture has been awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture help fund Hispanic community college students transferring to Texas State.

The award is the first Hispanic Serving Institution Grant received by Texas State since being recognized as such. After receiving $800,000 for the initial year, an additional three years will be funded based on performance, for a total of $3.2 million. The grant implementation will begin in the fall of 2011.

The award will aid Hispanic students transferring to Texas State from Laredo Community College, Palo Alto College or Northwest Vista College who are majoring in agriculture, biology, nutrition or environmental science. Upon transferring from their community colleges, the program participants will then complete their degree and graduate from Texas State. Texas State graduate students will assist in the administration of the program and mentoring the undergraduate student body.

The proposal’s principle investigator is Doug Morrish, associate professor of agricultural education, and co-principal investigators include Ryan Saucier, assistant professor in agricultural systems and Nora Garza, vice president for resource development at Laredo Community College.

During their time as undergraduates at Texas State, Morrish will assign the program participants along with faculty members into “research clusters” to help enhance their research experience. During the third and fourth years of the grant, students will be able to apply for a USDA internship opportunity somewhere in the U.S.

Students in the program will also get the opportunity to participate in a one-week “traveling classroom” to visit the Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center during the funding period. Students will gain one of many certifications offered by the Department of Homeland Security, thus adding to their credentials and increasing their chances for employment with the USDA.

The activities involved with the grant will allow agricultural investigators to introduce Hispanic students to the many technologically advanced areas of the discipline through innovative means such as experimental learning.

For more information, contact Doug Morrish at (512) 245-3321 or at dm43@txstate.edu.