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News Release

Release No. 0033.11
Brenda Chapin (202) 720-5447

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USDA Names Winners of 2011 Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2011 ─ Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of 24 university students who will attend USDA's 2011 Agricultural Outlook Forum. The finalists include students from Land-Grant, Hispanic Serving Institutions and American Association of State Colleges of Agriculture and Renewable Resources institutions who are the recipients of corporate and USDA sponsorship aimed at promoting the education of the next generation of agriculturalists. The Forum titled, "Today's Strategies & Tomorrow's Opportunities," is USDA's largest annual event and will be held Feb. 24 and 25 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.

"USDA's Outlook Forum gives these students the opportunity to hear leaders describe their vision for the direction of agriculture's future," said Vilsack. "USDA in turn welcomes the next generation to learn so they might excel to even greater heights in their careers."

The 24 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: Carly Barnes, University of Florida; Joshua Coleman, Alcorn State University; Michael Collins, Lincoln University;

Dan Cook, Truman State University; Juan L. Cruz-Colon, University of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras Campus; Jessica Espinoza, St. Edward's University; Christelle Fleurius, Florida A&M

University; Andrea Gonzalez, University of Georgia; Brian Gottlob, South Dakota State University; Cindy Gumber, California State University – Fresno; Robert C. Harris, Alcorn State University; Anna Hasan, Purdue University; Ross Killebrew, Tennessee State University; Sarah Landry, Louisiana State University; Blake N. Laethem, Michigan State University; Daja Menefee, Fort Valley State University; Joshua Moore, University of Arizona –Yuma; Edgar Ortega, San Diego State University; David Salinas, Texas A&M University; Sarah Seddon, New Mexico State University; Charlotte Thompson, University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Juan Vasquez, California State University – Stanislaus; La'Joya Wilburn, Prairie View A&M University; and Brielle Wright, North Carolina A&T State University.

This year, sponsoring corporations and USDA agencies include: CHS, Inc.; the Farm Credit System; Deere & Company; and USDA's Economic Research Service. USDA's Office of the Chief Economist and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture launched the program in 2007 to help provide students with a unique insight into their agricultural studies. The University of Maryland – Eastern Shore partners with USDA to make the program possible.

Registration for the 2-day event is $375. Plenary speeches will be webcast after 6:00 p.m. EST on Feb. 24. 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.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202-720-6382 (TDD).