CAC Students Attend USDA Conference
By Angela Askey, Executive Director of Public Relations & Marketing
Central Arizona College students, Carlos Campos and Stevi Zozaya represented the College at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food & Agriculture (USDA/NIFA) Project Director's Meeting in Washington, DC. Accompanying them on this trip was Marshall Logvin, CAC's USDA/NIFA Grant Coordinator.
The opportunity to participate was made possible through CAC's Project Puente, funded by the Hispanic Serving Institutions Higher Education Grant the college received this fall from the USDA/NIFA.
Project Puente is designed to provide a seamless high school to college to bio-industry career pathway for students, leading to an increase in the number of graduates prepared for careers that support food, agricultural and natural resources.
Both Campos and Zozaya are currently enrolled in agriculture programs at CAC and after completing their associate degrees, plan to transfer to the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Zozaya's main interest is agronomy and food safety and Campos hopes to obtain a career in agribusiness or agriculture law. They were selected to attend this conference based on their submitted application that highlighted their academic performance, community service commitment, enthusiasm for pursuing an agricultural career, and what they hoped to learn by attending.
This was the first year students were invited to join project directors at the USDA/NIFA meeting. Logvin presented CAC's Project Puente poster and the students provided testimonials as to how Project Puente has impacted their lives and provided opportunities that wouldn't otherwise be available to them.
"The Washington D.C. trip was an experience of a lifetime. I have never flown on a plane and with that being said, have never traveled to the east coast. This trip pulled me out of my comfort zone and helped me open my eyes to various things," stated Zozaya. "I was able to interact with students from all over the country that share the same interests as me and got to learn new things from their perspective. It was also a pleasure to converse with some of the top individuals in the USDA and be educated on various internship and future job opportunities. Also most importantly, it was so amazing to see the history of our nation's capital!"
Campos and Zozaya along with other students spent an entire day in Beltsville, Maryland at the largest USDA Agriculture Research Facility in the United States. They learned about the history of U.S. Agriculture, USDA laws and the founders of the USDA. While touring the state-of-the-art agriculture research facility the group observed various projects. Following their time here, the students joined the Project Directors for a conference at the National Science Foundation in Virginia, toured the two main USDA Buildings that border the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and visited the Smithsonian Institute.
"Attending this conference was an unforgettable experience!" exclaimed Campos. "I was able to understand the process of receiving grants to further educate students about the importance of agriculture, as well as the opportunities the USDA provides to schools with hope of growing the amount of internships and jobs within the field of agriculture."
For more information regarding Project Puente please contact Logvin at 520-494-6420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.