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1890 Land-Grant University Alumni Making a Difference at USDA

Posted by Adriane Brown, Office of Communications in Initiatives
Mar 25, 2020
Michael Mathews (third from right) with the Rural Development team on a recent visit to Alaska.
Michael Mathews (third from right) with the Rural Development team on a recent visit to Alaska.

The Second Morrill Act of 1890 was enacted by Congress to support states in establishing the 1890 Land-Grant Universities (LGUs) –Historically Black Colleges and Universities which are committed to providing educational opportunity through scientific research and extension programs. 

There are currently nineteen 1890 LGUs across eighteen states, and each continues to cultivate leadership in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and agriculture to this day.

By engaging young people in environmental stewardship, 1890 LGUs effectively enhance diversity in agriculture, while providing opportunities for social and economic mobility for communities that are often underrepresented across these disciplines.

In celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Second Morrill Act, USDA is highlighting 1890 LGU alumni who are making daily contributions to rural America in their professional careers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Michael Mathews, a Special Assistant with USDA’s Rural Development team, and a graduate of Prairie View A&M University in Texas, takes great pride in his alma mater’s legacy as an 1890 institution and the strides his fellow alumni are making in public service and innovation across America.

“Prairie View has graduated dentists, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, congressmen (Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (MO-5) is an alumnus), economists, and agriculture scientists – all of whom are doing great work in rural and urban communities across the country. We have a litany of Prairie View graduates who are now working at the Department of Agriculture in the Office of Civil Rights, Rural Development, Office of General Counsel, and others. We also have many who are working in our state and field offices delivering programs to rural America.”

In addition to preparing students to lead, 1890 institutions foster ideals that stick with students long after graduation. “I valued the sense of community, and camaraderie among my peers,” says Michael. “The diversity and varied curriculum, from the College of Agriculture to the Perry College of Engineering, offered a rich culture.”

Jennifer Hill, a Grain Marketing Specialist with USDA’s Office of International Affairs, agrees. As a graduate of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical (A&T) State University, she knows firsthand that community and giving back are critical aspects of the 1890 alumni identity.

“North Carolina A&T State University has a national alumni association with chapters in many states, and several offer scholarships to attend A&T schools. In addition, we are active in church ministries, community centers, civil rights advocacy, and numerous neighborhood organizations.”

By building relationships while in school and beyond, 1890 LGU alumni build nationwide networks and inspire their peers to serve and achieve.

“From the time spent at my LGU, I value my friendships and experiences most. There are people I met during orientation that I still call friends to this day. The connections I made at North Carolina A&T allowed me to see a different side of myself, and to find the courage to strive toward excellence.”

To learn more about how USDA partners with 1890 Land-Grant Universities, please visit us at the 1890 Land-Grant Institutions Programs website.

Category/Topic: Initiatives