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Contact: Branda Chapin, (202) 720-4557

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USDA Announces Winners of 2013 Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program              

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2013—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of 30 agricultural university students to attend USDA’s 2013 Agricultural Outlook Forum. The students—who attend land-grant, Hispanic-serving, and American Association of State Colleges of Agriculture and Renewable Resources Institutions—have received assistance from USDA and corporate sponsors in order to attend the Forum. The 2013 Agricultural Outlook Forum will be held Feb. 21- 22, 2013, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va. 

            “In the years ahead, a new generation of food and agricultural professionals will play a key role in solving the major challenges before us,” said Vilsack. “The Outlook Forum will give these students the chance to hear from leading government and industry voices on a broad range of topics, opening and expanding their opportunities to excel in agriculture-related fields.”       

            Twenty university juniors and seniors were selected based on their responses to the essay, “Agriculture as a Career.” The students are: Miguel Aceves, University of Arizona, Yuma; Crystal Adams, University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Samantha Anderson; Murray State University;  Robin Avison, Middle Tennessee State University; Travis Chase, University of Idaho;  Devinn Esberry, University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Christina Flores, California State University, Fresno; Tyler Harran, University of Wyoming; Candice Harvey, Fort Valley State University; Rose Jean-Mary, Miami Dade College; Keith Lewis, Prairie View A&M University;  Nathan Lim, University of Maryland, College Park; Tiana Mason, Virginia State University;  Tiara McCray, North Carolina A&T State University; Rebecca Naasz, South Dakota State University; Napoleon O'Quinn, Alcorn State University; Francisco Rodriguez, California State University, Stanislaus; Gabrielle Rovegno, University of Maryland College Park; Sergio Toro, San Diego State University; and Ricardo Zapater Ramos, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez. 

In addition, 10 graduate students were selected based on their responses to the essay, “The Greatest Challenge Facing Agriculture over the Next Five Years.” The students are: Andrea Basche, Iowa State University; Jeremy Bennett, Oklahoma State University; Michael Cagle, Mississippi State University; Allen Denkins, Tennessee State University; Augustina Odame, Utah State University; Aaron Pomerantz, University of Florida; Kevin Redwine, Texas Tech University; Zachary Schultzhaus, Texas A&M University; Megan Waldrop, Washington State University; and Venus Welch-White, Tuskegee University.

            This year, sponsoring corporations and USDA agencies include: CHS, Inc. and Farm Credit; USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, Economic Research Service, and Natural Resources Conservation Service. USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture launched the program in 2007 with support from CHS Inc. and Farm Credit.  The University of Maryland Eastern Shore partners with USDA to make the program possible. Several of the winning essays are found here:

            Registration for the public, two-day event is $375. Plenary speeches will be webcast after 6:00 p.m. EST on Feb. 22. Program details and registration information are available at  

            Writers, reporters, and editors may call Press Room Coordinator Priscilla Smith at 202-694-5022 or Forum Coordinator Brenda Chapin at 202-720-5447 for more details.



Brenda Chapin 202-720-5447