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USDA 1890 National Scholar Program Internships Helped Refine Goals

Posted by MD Sharman, Public Affairs Specialist, USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement in Equity Initiatives
Apr 09, 2024
Camille Pierre

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.

However, she wasn’t sure which agricultural niche she wanted to pursue until she became a USDA 1890 National Scholar and interned with the USDA.

The USDA 1890 National Scholars Program seeks to increase the number of students from 1890 land-grant universities who study agriculture, food, natural resource sciences and related disciplines. Becoming one of these scholars has numerous benefits, one of which is the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through internships.

Camille worked at two summer internships with NRCS while attending college. Her first was in Tahoka, Texas, where every day was educational, inside or out in the field. “I genuinely just loved being out there with so much history behind everything and so much beauty in the actual work,” she said. “I fell in love with the job.” Her focus centered around Irrigation systems, plant identification and cross fencing.

Her second internship was in Bryan, Texas, where she received excellent mentorship and stepped further out of her comfort zone, interacting with producers and managing their contracts. These internship experiences helped her develop a clear goal: to become a district conservationist within the next two years in a pasture-based area.

However, the internships, the scholarship and the experiences nearly didn’t happen.

“I almost didn’t sign up because I was told it was very competitive and tough to get,” she said. Her advice to students interested in the scholarship is simple: “Take a leap of faith. Take that step and apply.”

Today Camille does contracting and conservation planning work for NRCS in Mount Pleasant, Texas.

She credits her experience as an 1890 Scholar with helping accelerate her career. “I was able to advance more quickly at a young age and build my career faster than I would have ever been able to without this opportunity,” she said.

Category/Topic: Equity Initiatives