Joshua Harms, a senior in our ABM program, became the third AEC student in the past four years to participate in the USDA’s Student Diversity Program, held annually in conjunction with the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum. This very selective program hosts approximately 20 undergraduate students per year, out of a national applicant pool of students nominated by administrators at US Land Grant Universities and other Colleges with agriculture-focused programs of study.  Here at OSU, students in the College of Agricultural Sciences had to first apply to the CAS Office of Academic Programs for a “pre-screening” process that winnowed the number of nominees down to just two undergraduate students who were selected as OSU’s nominees. Assistant Dean Penny Diebel then submitted their names to the USDA, where Student Diversity Program administrators selected 20 participants from a highly competitive pool of nominees.  Participants, with funding provided by USDA, then traveled to Washington DC during the last week of February, where they spent a day visiting the US Department of Agriculture, a day touring the nation’s Capital, and then two days attending the 93rd annual USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum.

The theme for the 2017 USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum was “A New Horizon: The Future of Agriculture.”  Attendees included producers, representatives of commodity associations, policy makers, Congressional and Embassy staffers, industry leaders and academics. Keynote speakers included Representative Mike Conaway, US House Agriculture Committee Chair, Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation President, Beth Ford, Land O’Lakes Group Executive VP and COO, and Robert Johansson, USDA Chief Economist.  Yet, as Joshua noted, “even though the program at the Forum had some very impressive speakers and presentations, what I will remember the most is the time I spent with the other students.  They were an incredibly smart and talented group of people and I felt honored to have had a week to spend with them.  I really enjoyed my first trip to Washington DC too!  It’s something special to visit the Capital Building and see for yourself the monuments that are in DC.”

Past attendees from the AEC Department are Martin Sanchez, who participated in the 2015 program and Brytann Busick, who was a 2014 participant.  Martin, who graduated in May 2016 with an ABM degree now works for Land O’Lakes while Brytann, a 2015 EEP graduate, is now working on her Masters degree at Texas A&M University.