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April 2024

In Her Own Words: E. Kika De La Garza Fellow Finds Purpose in Motivating the Next Generation

Since 1998, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recognized highly accomplished staff and faculty at Hispanic-Serving Institutions and Hispanic-Serving School Districts through E. Kika De La Garza Fellowships. Participants travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with leaders at USDA agencies and learn about opportunities available to their respective institutions and students.

Syndia Nazario-Cardona, acting chancellor/associate VP of government affairs and community relations at Ana G. Mendez University in Florida, describes how her experience is helping her to support the next generation and make a difference in the educational realm.

Charlie Rawls: Amplifying Diverse Voices in the Process of Advancing Equity for All

With a legal lens and knack for paying attention to detail, Equity Commission Member Charles (Charlie) Rawls has been the go-to source to help capture the essence of the Equity Commission’s intentions. With his firsthand experience working on civil rights reforms at the Department of Agriculture as General Counsel and his visionary collaboration and advocacy skills, Rawls contribution to the Final Report (PDF, 2.0 MB), released in February 2024, was an asset to the Equity Commission. For Rawls, the Equity Commission’s work has come full circle. His career was influenced by his time spent at USDA in the 1990s, serving in various roles which provided a foundation for his lifelong efforts addressing civil rights issues within the agricultural sector.

USDA 1890 National Scholar Program Internships Helped Refine Goals

Even as a child, Camille Pierre was interested in agriculture. She first learned about the industry from her uncle, who worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). With that seed of interest planted, she took agriculture classes throughout high school, grew and maintained her garden, showed livestock, and cross-bred tomatoes. She eventually got her degree in agriculture from Prairie View A&M University with a concentration in plant and soil science.

E. Kika De La Garza Science Fellow Finds Community in Fellowship

Dr. Samuel Discua is a postdoctoral researcher at University of Arizona Yuma in the Department of Entomology, where he studies the ecology and management of insect pests associated with leafy greens and melons in Arizona cropping systems. Yuma and the rest of the state lead national lettuce crop production. His research currently focuses on the role of host plants in the transfer of insect-transmitted diseases in lettuce and melons. He also teaches a series of courses at University of Yuma on Agricultural Systems Management and Crop Production.

Heart & Soil People’s Garden a Vibrant Hub

Chanika Forte, founder of Heart & Soil People’s Garden in Phoenix, Arizona, shared her reflections on the connections between women, gardening, and food justice. A dedicated advocate for community empowerment, environmental sustainability, and food sovereignty, Chanika is also the founder of BaeHive and ABC Mobile, a beekeeping program and education platform that promote sustainable agriculture.