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Laser-Focused USDA 1890 National Scholar Builds Future with USDA

Posted by Carrie Knight, Public Affairs Specialist, USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement in Equity Initiatives
Jan 09, 2024
Kevin Poole

Kevin Poole, a recent graduate of Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU), can remember the exact moment when he first learned about the USDA 1890 National Scholars Program. It was during the spring semester of his junior year of high school. “A school administrator grabbed me at lunch and said she wanted to tell me about this opportunity,” Poole said. “It just kept getting better and better as she told me about the program.”

He decided to apply and says he became laser-focused on the application process. “I kept a sticky note on my refrigerator to keep track of the application requirements,” he said. Six years later, he remains grateful for that conversation and for where it led him.

Poole majored in biological systems engineering with a natural resources conservation track at FAMU.

As part of the scholarship, Poole participated in summer internships with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office in Columbia, South Carolina. He worked under former State Conservation Engineer Michael Steward conducting watershed dam checks, shadowing staff in the field, surveying, and gaining experience with different engineering and modeling software.

“Kevin is a special person,” Steward said. “Not only was he academically prepared to handle the engineering challenges arising on a routine basis in the office, but his work ethic and positive energy are energizing and catching!”

Poole will start a permanent position as an Agricultural Engineer with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service this year. He credits the USDA 1890 National Scholars Program for helping him plan for the future. “The program supports a level of long-term thinking and career planning that I was able to build upon,” he said.

Steward is also confident in Poole’s future. “I applaud Kevin for his contributions to NRCS as a student intern, with his diligent effort in readying himself for his bright future,” he said. “I applaud the USDA 1890 National Scholars Program for recruiting and retaining an ambitious candidate like Kevin to flourish in the program and demonstrate the need for continued partnership with schools like FAMU.”

“It’s nice knowing we’re helping people,” Poole said. “I like those direct connections, where you can see how our work helps and informs citizens.”

USDA is currently accepting applications for the USDA 1890 National Scholars Program through March 1, 2024. For more information or to apply, visit the program website.

Category/Topic: Equity Initiatives