Jordyn Ash, a sophomore at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, is a USDA 1890 National Scholar studying plant and soil sciences. Ash applied to the USDA 1890 National Scholars Program during her senior year of high school. She recalls guidance counselors providing excellent summaries of different scholarship opportunities, but she decided that the USDA 1890 National Scholars Program offered the best fit for her career aspirations.
USDA 1890 scholars are awarded annual tuition, fees, books and room and board for each academic year of their scholarship. They also have an opportunity to work with USDA each summer and, upon completion of their academic degree program, to continue their professional career with USDA.
She spent last summer in Orangeburg, South Carolina completing an internship as a soil conservationist with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Ash, originally from Covington, Georgia just outside Atlanta, appreciated the rural setting of Orangeburg. “It was really fun to experience a different climate and observe different agricultural methods,” she said.
Her internship experience highlighted the important ways the USDA 1890 National Scholars program allows students to connect hands-on field work with classroom knowledge. “I’m taking an entomology course this fall,” Ash said, “I’m already relating the course material to what I learned last summer.” She considers this opportunity to explore real world applications of academic knowledge to be the biggest difference between the USDA 1890 National Scholars Program and other scholarships.
During her first summer internship, Ash received training and experience in developing Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) plans with producers that integrate conservation practices into working lands. She also had the opportunity to shadow a soils conservation technician in the field to ensure producer compliance with EQIP plans.
“Jordyn entered a busy work environment and picked up things super quick,” says Dextrin Dorsey, district conservationist and Ash’s internship supervisor. “When things got tight, she’d step in and offer to help. She was professional at all times and a pleasure to have in the office.”
Ash is already thinking ahead to future internships. “My goal for next summer is to shadow an agronomist,” she said. She is taking advanced courses in horticulture and botany this semester to prepare for that possibility.
The 1890 National Scholars Program is currently accepting applications for the 2024-25 school year through March 1, 2024. For more information or to apply, visit USDA 1890 National Scholars Program.