Skip to main content

Success Stories

Students conducting an experiment

A Garden of Learning

Jaqueline Holmes is a third-grade teacher at Triangle Elementary in Florida who won a 2018 Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award for her schoolwide garden initiative to teach students reading, writing, math, science, and social studies, good nutrition, and the value of giving back to the community. Learn more about the innovative ways teachers are using agricultural concepts to teach their students.

Students conducting an experiment

Students See Their Future in Science

Hilliary Communications, which serves parts of Oklahoma and Texas, has reinforced its commitment to its customers and communities with a series of upgrades in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. This is especially important since students across the state will begin distance learning on April 6 as schools across the region go back into session remotely.

Students conducting an experiment

USDA Helps Young Entrepreneurs

Aaron Muhammad of Dawson, Georgia, had no prior farm experience, but decided to try something new and discovered his passion for raising chickens. He obtained a youth loan through the local Farm Service Agency (FSA) to purchase his chickens and to build a coop. “They helped me financially and mentally by giving me tips for building a business as far as what to do and what not to do,” Muhammad said.


Stewards of the Land – Chugach Children’s Forest Initiative

With support from USDA, the Chugach Children’s Forest Initiative introduces diverse, young Alaskans to their wild backyard. Despite the abundance of wild places in Alaska, many Alaskan youth have never ventured outside their local communities to explore Alaska’s vast expanse of public lands. Learn how nine students spent a month in the Chugach National Forest in Alaska exploring careers in public land management and providing much needed conservation work to the area.

Volunteer holding a farm vegetable

Volunteer to Career

Amanda Carrell’s two passions in life are volunteering and agriculture. While an agronomy student at Arkansas State University, she began volunteering in the Earth Team Volunteer program at the Jonesboro, Ark., Field and Area Service Centers. Among her projects, she assisted civil engineers with the survey and design of a 300-acre irrigation reservoir. “It was worth it,” said Carrell about volunteering despite her busy schedule. “One of the greatest experiences I got out of it was how to transition from a student to a professional."

NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson

Astronaut Credits 4-H with Early Success

“Where you come from doesn’t have to be limiting; extend yourself and anything is possible. I dreamed of becoming an astronaut and achieved that dream.” So said NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson, a proud 4-H alumna of the Ringgold County, Iowa, 4-H club. USDA, 4-H, and NASA teamed up with Whitson to develop Expeditionary Skills for Life, online lessons and content based on the skills needed to become an astronaut that students can also use to succeed in life.

FFA skill building

FFA Hands-On Skill Building

All FFA members take part in a supervised agricultural experience (SAE), a student-led, instructor-supervised, work-based learning experience. New Mexico FFA member Madison Blanton talks about her SAE working for a local water conservation district. "I've learned a range of skills, from financial management, to government policies and procedures. The financial skills I’ve learned will help me for my future, my personal life, along with the practices I’ve learned for our family ranch."

Students experimenting with plants

Young People Create an Urban Oasis

Ohio State University uses gardening to teach at-risk youth about teamwork, nutrition, community engagement, and entrepreneurship. The Urban GEMS (Gardening Entrepreneurs Motivating Sustainability) project teaches students in Franklin and Mahoning Counties how to grow leafy greens using vertical tower gardens, as well as how to prepare and cook their harvests, teach their peers and families about healthy eating, and donate produce to the homeless. So far, there are tower gardens in nine locations in the region. The research team has plans to create a sustainable business growing food in food deserts with as many as 90 gardens in the next five years. "A lot of students are still wrapping their minds around the fact that Ohio State University and people who have resources are willing to invest in them,” said Dr. Deanna Wilkinson, researcher at Ohio State University. “They are just not used to that. What I want them to know is that they deserve all of the same opportunities as kids who live in communities with more resources.”

Sky Templeton with another person

Forestry Student Branches Out

MANRRS member and Penn State forestry student Sky Templeton is a champion for forestry and education. During her studies, she has worked with Penn State Extension’s Center for Private Forests which educates forest owners on land conservation. In Pennsylvania alone, 70 percent of the forests in the state Pennsylvania are privately owned. Templeton saw the need for more accessible forestry information so she developed a guide to help people identify and control invasive plant species on their land.

Volunteer holding a farm vegetable

Gaining Knowledge, Gainful Employment

Keven Valentin parlayed his HACU internship into a USDA employment as a Commodity Procurement Financial Analyst with the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. “As I look back on my experience as a HACU intern working at AMS, I really appreciate the way the program works with USDA and other organizations. HACU placed me in an organization and position that matched my educational background. Working with the Commodity Procurement staff turned out to be a great fit for me.”


Intern Spotlight Maki O’Bryan ’17

Maki O’Bryan studied political science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In 2017, she interned at the USDA Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights.

Volunteer holding a farm vegetable

Accomplishment in the Great Outdoors

“It’s hard work, but it’s also fun work,” said one student from Fort Washington, Maryland, who joined dozens of teens from around the country for a summer trailbuilding project with the Youth Conservation Corps.


Next Generation Economist

"I am thrilled to have broadened my experience with USDA," said Grant Gustaffson, a 2017 USDA Wallace-Carver Fellow who was placed at the USDA Economic Research Service. "I analyzed and compiled a literature review of diverse economic journal articles to contribute to new research on the intersection between rural labor markets, entrepreneurship, and development."