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Hard Work and Perseverance Pay Off for USDA/1890 National Scholar

Posted by Melissa Blair, USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement in Conservation Initiatives
Aug 07, 2023
USDA/1890 National Scholars Program recipient, Floyd D. Harris III in his graduation cap and gown in the front of Southern University in Louisiana, an 1890s land-grant university

California native Floyd D. Harris III knows that perseverance and hard work pay off. A recent graduate of Southern University, an 1890 land-grant university in Louisiana, Harris applied several times to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)/1890 National Scholars Program.

He was thrilled when he was finally selected, especially since the scholarship provided financial assistance to complete his B.S. in Animal Science during his junior and senior years.

“The most important thing is to know who you are and why you are in college,” he said. “There are many distractions, but it’s your job to stay focused.”

He recommends that students network as much as possible and explore all available opportunities. “You may not know what you want right away, so it’s important to try new things that can help you determine what you like,” he said.

He credits the USDA/1890 National Scholars Program with helping him network and gain exposure to different USDA programs.

For example, through the program, he learned which classes he needed for working with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), where he interned last summer in Plymouth, Wisconsin to gain valuable work experience. After graduating, he started his full-time position as a soil conservationist with NRCS in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Harris says this new career provides the best of both worlds, working outside in nature with agricultural producers, and working in the office on conservation planning.

“The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program provides opportunities for students to be guided by professionals during their college matriculation,” said Tiffany Franklin, the USDA 1890 liaison for Southern University with the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE). “The program also allows scholars to gain valuable experience, making them workforce ready for their sponsoring agency upon graduation.”

OPPE manages the USDA/1890 National Scholars Program, which is aimed at increasing the number of students from rural and underserved communities who study food, agriculture, natural resources and related sciences. The scholarship provides full tuition, fees, books, and room and board and may also include work experience at USDA. The program is open to high school seniors entering their freshman year of college as well as college freshmen, sophomores and juniors.

“This program has many facets, but growing professionals is a major part of our responsibility to our students,” said Franklin. “Mr. Harris is a true example of how the program is beneficial both personally and professionally.”

Category/Topic: Conservation Initiatives