The USDA FATE Grant’s objectives include creation and implementation of a Joint Admissions Agreement with Texas State University and Laredo Community College / Palo Alto College / Northwest Vista College to increase the transfer rate of Hispanic students to a four-year university.
It will encourage Hispanic community college students to develop early linkages with Texas State University through the newly established University Transfer Centers, mentorship websites, summer camps, faculty networking, and experiential learning fieldtrips and have a retention rate at or higher than that of the university.
The grant will develop early linkages and a strong pipeline for K-12 students by visiting 10 schools a year with a high representation of Hispanic students.
The grant will train 50 scholar Hispanic students in the course “Preparing Communities for Agroterrorism.”
The goal will be to retain and place 90 percent of the student participants in job shadowing and internship opportunities within USDA agencies; graduate 50 Hispanic students who are well trained and ready to enter employment in the food safety / inspection areas with APHIS, FSIS, or another USDA agency.
Funding will be provided for six graduate students to complete a thesis and a degree within the Department of Agriculture, allowing them to be competitive for USDA employment.
Each site will form “Academic Research Clusters” (directed by faculty and graduate students) to create a mentoring component and allow Hispanic students to collect data and present their findings at one research conference. Participants will increase their credentials by being trained in an agroterrorism course titled “Preparedness and Response to Food and Agriculture Incidents” which will increase their chances of being employed by FSIS, APHIS, or other USDA agencies. The newly created Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) organization will travel to secondary schools with a high representation of Hispanic students and discuss the many employment opportunities available within USDA.
The project creates many safety nets to increase retention of Hispanic students. University Transfer Centers will be created at Laredo Community College and Palo Alto College, creating a “one-stop shop” for students to get information about transferring, admission requirements, and USDA job shadowing or internship opportunities. "Academic Research Clusters" of four or five students will be paired with a faculty member to create a research team. A travelling classroom component to the Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center in Las Cruces, N.M., gives students hands-on experience with the day-to-day operations of inspection, safety and agroterrorism threats in dairies, Mexico livestock border crossings, food processing facilities, etc. All 50 participants will be required to participate in and complete job shadowing and/or USDA internships during the life of the project, thus increasing possible employment with USDA and alleviating underrepresentation of Hispanic workers in the agency.
This grant is the first one awarded to Texas State University since it achieved the status of a "Hispanic Serving Institution." It is housed in the Department of Agriculture and directed by Dr. Douglas Morrish and Dr. Ryan Saucier.