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USDA Welcomes 14 Interns from Migrant and Farmworker Backgrounds

Posted by Joyce El Kouarti, Communications Director, Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement in Equity Initiatives
Jun 04, 2024
Student interns from various universities stand for a group photo during a summer internship orientation

This summer 14 students (PDF, 1.4 MB) from agricultural migrant and farmworker backgrounds will take part in paid 10-week internships with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.

The HEP/CAMP internship program is coordinated by USDA’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE) in partnership with the National HEP/CAMP Association, comprised of universities, colleges and nonprofit organizations that administer a High School Equivalency Program (HEP) and/or a College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP). These institutions also serve students from agricultural migrant or seasonal farmworker families.

“HEP/CAMP internships are part of USDA’s effort to develop the next generation of leaders in agriculture,” said OPPE Director Lisa Ramírez. “This program demonstrates USDA’s commitment to ensuring equitable access to the Department’s programs, services, and resources by underserved groups, in this case, students from agricultural migrant and farmworker backgrounds.”

This is the second year that USDA has offered the HEP/CAMP internship program. Last year the Department hosted 8 interns. This year, the number has almost doubled.

All interns are current CAMP students, alumni, and HEP graduates attending a post-secondary institution, particularly, though not limited to, those pursuing agriculture-related academic programs. Throughout the summer, they gain work experience and learn about career opportunities available within USDA. Participating USDA agencies include the Agricultural Research Service, Office of Budget and Program Analysis, Farm Service Agency, National Finance Center, Natural Resources Conservation Service, OPPE, Rural Development, and the White House Liaison Office.

Daniela De Santiago-Zuniga is a HEP/CAMP intern who recently graduated from the University of South Florida. “My early exposure to the relentless work of agricultural labor helped me understand and appreciate the dedication required to cultivate crops and sustain food production,” she said. “As a social work major and someone whose family grew up in agricultural work, I’m eager to advocate for individuals in vulnerable positions.”

USDA also offers additional resources for migrant and farmworker communities, including more than 25 education programs to develop students and food and agricultural professionals. Many of these programs may support scholarship, tuition, room and board, and living stipends for eligible students.

HEP/CAMP programs are funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Migrant Education. The U.S. Department of Education established the HEP and CAMP programs in 1967 and 1972, respectively.

Category/Topic: Equity Initiatives