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An 1890 National Scholar’s Path to a Career with USDA

Posted by Mariela Castaneda, Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement in Equity Initiatives
Jun 16, 2023
1890 National Scholar Allison Malone in her graduation stole. Photo courtesy of Allison Malone

Allison Malone grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. When she left her childhood home to attend the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, a historically Black university, her goal was to pursue a career in agricultural engineering. Through perseverance and with financial support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) / 1890 National Scholars Program, Allison became the first student to complete the School of Agricultural Engineering program, receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Spring of 2022.

The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program provided Allison with a scholarship that allowed her to attend her final two years of college cost free. It also opened up a network of support that enabled her to build relationships in school and beyond, and to gain work experience through a summer internship with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Today Allison is a civil engineer with NRCS in Delaware, where she’s working to help America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners conserve the nation’s soil, water and air.

She noted that the 1890 Scholars Program connected her with people who helped her navigate the agency, access opportunities at USDA, and support her through the new employee onboarding process.

“The program prepares us to go out into the workforce knowing that we are capable of doing the job and excelling in it,” Allison said.

“Allison has quickly become a valuable part of the NRCS Delaware family and engineering team,” said her supervisor Ann Baldwin. “Through the internship, Allison came on board with an understanding of USDA and our unit’s role within the Department. She is excelling by bringing the skills learned through the program and applying them on the job.”

Allison encourages other students to go beyond their comfort zones to reach their goals. “There are opportunities out there, but you have to be diligent about what you’re trying to achieve,” she said. “When I moved to Delaware, I moved away from my family, friends, all the familiar things in my life. Don’t be afraid to leave the known for the unknown. You never know what will happen on the other side.”

The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program is among USDA’s many efforts to increase the number of minorities studying and working in agriculture, food, natural resource sciences and related disciplines, and to achieve a workforce reflects the diversity of the communities USDA serves.

Category/Topic: Equity Initiatives