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1890 Scholar Applies Interest in Genetics to Help Farmers

Posted by Daniela De Santiago-Zuniga, Intern, Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement in Equity Initiatives
Jul 05, 2024
Bryan Hallman

Growing up in Albany, Georgia, Bryan Hallman was surrounded by agriculture but had little exposure to the industry at school. He realized he was interested in pursuing a career in agriculture during his senior year of high school when a teacher told him about the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) 1890 National Scholars Program.

A partnership between USDA and the 1890 land-grant universities, this program seeks to boost educational and career opportunities for students from rural or underserved communities. Scholars are provided with full tuition, fees, books, room and board, and the scholarship may also include work experience at USDA.

Hallman has been an 1890 scholar for two years and is currently doing an internship as a soil conservationist with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). He visits farmers’ properties when they have concerns, assesses the farm, and identifies potential solutions to resolve issues. Hallman helps farmers improve their farms by implementing strategies to increase their profits.

“My favorite part has been seeing how farmers operate, what problems they have, and how we can practically solve them,” he said. “I’m from the country, so that is something I love to do.”

The scholarship also enabled Hallman to revisit his interest in genetics. Intrigued by plant genetics and plant breeding, he has a particular interest in developing new fruit varieties and cultivars. “Seeing how a good diet and proper nutrition transforms your body and enhances your well-being put me onto this path,” he said. While visiting properties and interacting with landowners, Hallman has educated farmers about the processes involved in genetically modifying plants.

He has gained valuable lessons from his experience in the program. “The biggest lesson I have learned is to do what you love and don’t stay anywhere you don’t belong,” he said. He has found this attitude to be helpful for attracting mentors as well. “When you give it your all, someone will recognize your dedication and take you under their wing because they are invested in your future.”

Hallman is set to graduate in May 2025. Upon earning his bachelor’s degree in plant science, he plans to pursue employment at USDA. He hopes to one day establish his own farm, or a farmer’s market.

Category/Topic: Equity Initiatives