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Agriculture is a Way of Life for This 1890 Scholar

Posted by MD Sharman, Public Affairs Specialist, USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement in Equity Initiatives
Apr 30, 2024
Leigh Adams

Leigh Adams grew up in Houston, Texas, where agriculture and the outdoors were a way of life for her. “When I wasn’t at school, I was in the country tending to the ranch, fishing, baling hay or hunting,” she said. “Doing these activities brought nothing but happiness.”

Leigh’s connection with Prairie View A&M in Texas runs deep, with her family having graduated and worked at the university. It was through them that she learned about the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 1890 National Scholar Program. She was named a scholar in 2019. “Receiving this scholarship made myself and family very proud,” she said. “It meant the world to them, and I was happy to make them proud.”

Being named a scholar was not just an honor for Leigh, but a life-changing opportunity. “The scholarship provided me with a meal plan, covered my education expenses, allowed me to choose my housing, and even offered an internship and a direct-hire position after graduation,” she said. “This support system made life easier and allowed me to focus on my studies.”

Leigh’s internship was with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in San Angelo, Texas, where she became a full-time soil conservationist after her internship ended. In this role, she enjoys the personal interactions and helping others. “Establishing trust and partnerships are important parts of my role,” she said. "Working with producers and seeing people succeed are my favorite parts of the job.”

She also noted that another significant benefit of working for USDA is the accommodation and support of the agency. “I was interested in getting my master’s degree at a school that was five hours away,” she said. “I thought I may have to quit to pursue my educational goals, but USDA agreed to move me to a field office close to my school to meet my needs. Now I can work and get my degree at the same time. You don’t hear about that very often in the private sector.”

Leigh has a bachelor’s in agriculture and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in natural resources and environmental science. She aims to continue to work for USDA and someday own a ranch and farm. In her free time, she raises and breeds Flemish giant rabbits for show.

Category/Topic: Equity Initiatives