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News Release

Release No. 0017.09
Brenda Chapin (202) 720-5447

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 15, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer today announced the selection of 18 university students who will attend USDA's 2009 Agricultural Outlook Forum. The finalists include students from Land-Grant and Hispanic Serving Institutions who are the recipients of corporate and USDA sponsorship aimed at promoting the education of the next generation of agriculturalists. The Forum titled, "Global Agriculture & Rural America in Transition," is USDA's largest annual event and will be held Feb. 26 and 27 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.

"Agriculture's future grows from the inspiration and innovation of our youth," said Secretary Ed Schafer. "USDA's Outlook Forum places students at the doorstep of what government and industry leaders envision for the economic outlook, policies, and direction of agriculture's future."

The university juniors and seniors majoring in agricultural-related studies were selected based on their essays, "Agriculture as a Career," and recommendations from their deans.

The finalists chosen to represent their universities are: Rosalva Chavez, California State University-Fresno; Courtney Hannink, California State University-Stanislaus; Kati McWaters, University of Florida; Jonathan Adam Watson, University of Florida; Maurice D. Smith, Jr., Virginia State University; Ashley Harold, University of Idaho; Evelina Arzanova, Miami Dade College; Jose Turcios, Prairie View A&M University; Bobby J. Smith, II, Prairie View A&M University; Jessa M. Becker, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Pam Dahlman, University of Minnesota; Amber Seibert, University of Minnesota; Ar'Quette Grant, Delaware State University; Ashley Jones, University of Arkansas; Dalton Henry, Kansas State University; James Millsap, Kansas State University; Jannel S. Irons, University of Maryland Eastern Shore; and Kedena P. Thompson, University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

This year, sponsoring corporations and USDA agencies include: CHS, Inc.; Tyson Foods, Inc.; Deere & Company; AgFirst Farm Credit Bank; Farm Credit Bank of Texas; and USDA's Economic Research Service. USDA's Office of the Chief Economist and the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service launched the program in 2007 to help provide students with a unique insight into their agricultural studies.

In addition to USDA leaders, this year's Forum will feature distinguished guests from the private sector and academia including: Sara Wyant, President, Agri-Pulse Communications; Michael Mack, CEO, Syngenta International AG; Chris Policinski, President and Chief Executive Officer, Land O'Lakes, Inc; Daniel Yergin, Chairman, Cambridge Energy Research Associates, Inc.; and Catherine Ann Bertini, Professor, Syracuse University.

Registration for the 2-day event is $350 until Jan. 23. Plenary speeches are webcast after 3:30 p.m. EST on Feb. 26. A full roster of speakers and registration information are available at:

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

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