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Students learn about ag careers

August 17, 2009

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A summer adventure in learning began for 14 high school students from five states when they arrived at the University of Maryland in mid-July.

The students were on campus to learn about careers in agriculture as part of a program called "Ag Discovery" hosted by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in partnership with USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Chosen from more than 100 applicants, the students lived in campus dorms for two-weeks. They learned about some of the many career opportunities available in the agricultural sciences, with special emphasis on careers in protecting plants and animals.

On-campus activities included learning about the chemistry of food, anatomy of animals, plant genetics, landscape architecture, aquaculture and agricultural economics.

A big hit was a visit to the campus farm, where they learned about the care and housing of cattle, horses, sheep and poultry.

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Activities included a visit to the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture, a Capitol Hill tour and attendance at a House of Representatives session.

The 2009 University of Maryland Ag Discovery students were:

Frank Abbott, Severna Park, Md.; Abby Peach, Haymarket, Va.; Claire Ritchie, Port Jervis, N.Y.; Joseph Harden, Mechanicsville, Va.; Austin Wilkerson, Paris, Mo.; Dennis Campbell, Forest Heights, Md.; Kiara Martin, Asheboro, N.C.; Ashley Smith, Thurmont, Md.; Caitlyn Hutchison, College Park; Edward Shalom, Silver Spring, Md.; Chinyere McKoy-Nwachukwu, White Plains, Md.; Jade Dyson, Indian Head, Md.; Emmilee Guy, Clement, Md,; and Shaina Paulson, Rockville, Md.

At the National Zoo, students went behind the scenes to learn about animal nutrition, while on a trip to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, they learned about the role of entomology in agriculture. A visit to the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center provided them with an opportunity to learn about the interrelation of wildlife with agriculture and witness demonstrations involving netting wild birds and radio-telemetry tracking of large mammals.

As part of a final assignment, one student wrote, "What I found out about agriculture altered my previous conception, drastically. I had always associated agriculture with being a farmer. Thanks to Ag Discovery, I now know that agriculture means essentially the living world and how humans interact with it."

In 2009 APHIS provided funding and support for Ag Discovery programs at six other universities including Delaware State University. This was the fourth year of Ag Discovery at the University of Maryland.

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