Saturday, July 05, 2014

FAMU CAFS Youth Summit highlights agriculture and food science careers

FAMU College of Agriculture and Food Sciences (CAFS) hosted parents, students and faculty during the CAFS Youth Development Summer Institute’s 2014 Summit held June 21.

The Summit allowed pre-college students and parents across CAFS Youth Development Summer Program areas to showcase what they learned about career opportunities related to STEAM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture and Mathematics). The theme for this year’s summit was “Need Food, Shelter, Clothing, and Technology? There’s an AG for that!”

“Most students come to the program with a specific major or career path in mind and a general concept of what agriculture and food sciences is all about, ” said Program Director Gilda Phills. “However, in most cases, their career paths have not been well thought out, and they have a misconception of these disciplines because of little or no exposure to the various career options in their specific areas of interest.”

The CAFS Youth Development Summer Institute Programs provide students with exposure and experiential learning across the various academic disciplines that are offered throughout FAMU’s College of Agriculture and Food Sciences. During the Youth Summit, student participants are given an opportunity to tell what they have learned through their camp participation. 

“In this highly technological age we live in, many students do not know there is much more to agriculture and food sciences than just farming and cooking. These academic disciplines are the foundation of the basic sciences and technology that combine to feed, clothe and shelter over six billion people around the world daily,” said Bobby Phills, project director for the CAFS Youth Development Summer Institute, which is funded by a federal grant. 

The Summer Institute Program is a significant part of the university’s recruitment efforts as the majority of participants continue on to enroll in studies at FAMU CAFS.

“It is gratifying to hear them talk about how their knowledge has changed and how they now want to pursue a career in one or more of the alternative agriculture and food science areas they learned about in the program,” said Gilda Phills.

Several speakers participated in the summit to share words of wisdom. While encouraging the students, Robert Taylor, CAFS dean and director of land-grant programs, referenced FAMU alumnus John W. Thompson, who went from a student with ambition to now chairman of Microsoft.

“The selection of a FAMU graduate as chairman of Microsoft, one of the world’s most accomplished software companies, is a testament to the preparation students receive at FAMU,” said Taylor. “When a FAMU graduate is chosen to lead a company formerly led by Bill Gates, that tells you what a degree from FAMU can do for you.”

Participants also heard from Johana Briscoe, emergency program manager for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), about opportunities for employment in federal government in the field of agriculture and related sciences. Briscoe explained that she looks forward to FAMU graduates one day doing what she does. 

USDA APHIS is an avid supporter of FAMU and actively supports the AG Discovery summer program as well as ongoing research partnerships, USDA 1890 National Scholar Program sponsorship and student internships.

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