Last weekend, I had the pleasure of providing the commencement address for Florida A&M University’s spring 2015 graduates. As a designated 1890 historically black land-grant university, FAMU plays a critical role in teaching students to meet the high quality, innovative research needs that are vital to the well-being of our nation and the world. The ever-increasing need to feed the growing world population has made it more important than ever to train the next generation of policy makers, researchers and educators in the food and agricultural sciences.
With FAMU’s foundation and mission rooted in agriculture, engineering and technology, science and mathematics, it is paramount that the school’s graduates recognize the importance of the contributions they can make as leaders in science and agriculture. These graduates will be a part of the next generation that uses the power of their passion, potential and creativity to develop innovative solutions to some of the world’s present-day challenges.
I believe this generation will be the one to help Americans fall back in love with the notion of science. This is the generation that will alleviate global food insecurity and make the looming threat of climate change a thing of the past.
This is why the USDA is committed to our continued support of 1890s institutions, because our contributions are merely investments in our bright future. It’s the very reason why I signed an MOU today, reaffirming USDA’s partnership with all 19 1890s Universities across the country. Through this memorandum the USDA is able to put forth a collaborative effort to encourage more opportunities for students and graduates to work at the USDA or in careers related to food, agricultural science and natural resources. In partnering with 1890 Universities we are able to set up an equitable exchange of expertise and resources that will help strengthen the overall capacity of each institution of learning, as well as the USDA.
Currently, the USDA partners with FAMU in a number of ways, including providing financial assistance through two different grant programs. In the last three to four years, the USDA has provided nearly $24 million dollars in total financial support, and I am more than confident in the return on these investments.
My hope is that the graduates of FAMU and all 1890s institutions are ready and motivated to use all they have been equipped with to change the world. Once again, Congratulations to FAMU’s spring 2015 class. Keep Striking from the top!