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USDA Names Winners of 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2012 ─ Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of 24 university students who will attend USDA's 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum. The finalists include students from Land-Grant, Hispanic-serving institutions, and American Association of State Colleges of Agriculture and Renewable Resources institutions who are the recipients of corporate and USDA sponsorship aimed at promoting the education of the next generation of agriculturalists. The Forum titled, "Moving Agriculture Forward," is USDA's largest annual event and will be held Feb. 23 and 24 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.

"USDA's Outlook Forum will celebrate USDA's 150th anniversary, giving these students the opportunity to hear former Secretaries of Agriculture describe their vision for the future of agriculture," said Vilsack. "USDA welcomes the next generation to participate in the Forum so they might see opportunities to excel to even greater heights in their careers."

The 24 university juniors and seniors majoring in agricultural-related studies were selected based on their essays, "Agriculture as a Career," and recommendations from their deans.

The finalists chosen to represent their universities are: Monica Adamson, Middle Tennessee State University; Joy Atkins, Virginia State University; Ernest Branford, Prairie View A&M University; Nicholas Camacho, Jr., University of Arizona, Yuma; Stephanie Diaz, Miami Dade College; Danielle Farley, Southern Illinois University; Crystal Francis, University of Maryland

Eastern Shore; Thomas Griffin, Oregon State University; Jason Harris, Oklahoma State University; Amber Lassiter, North Carolina A&T State University; Emmaline Long, Cornell University; Marissa Martinez, Texas State University; Kaleigh Monroe, Florida A&M University; Yuandong Qi, University of Maryland College Park; Joyce Ramirez, Texas A&M University; Kevin Redwine, Texas Tech University; Jose L. Ruiz, California Polytechnic State University; Xavier Sanders, Northern Arizona University; Tyler Steinkamp, South Dakota State University; Richard Stonebraker, University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Kenniesha Tolliver, Alcorn State University; Waudell Tucker, Jr., Auburn University; Carlos Vazquez, St. Thomas University; and Megan Woods, California State University, Fresno.

This year, sponsoring corporations and USDA agencies include: CHS, Inc.; Farm Credit; USDA's Economic Research Service, Agricultural Research Service, and Natural Resources Conservation Service. USDA's Office of the Chief Economist and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture launched the program in 2007 to expose students to a broad range of agricultural disciplines. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore partners with USDA to make the program possible. To view several of the winning essays, please visit:

Registration for the 2-day event after Jan. 23 is $425. Plenary speeches will be webcast after 6:00 p.m. EST on Feb. 23. Program details and registration information are available at:

Writers, reporters, and editors may call Press Room Coordinator Priscilla Smith at 202-694-5022 or Forum Coordinator Brenda Chapin at 202-720-5447 for more details.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 (Voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).