PRINCESS ANNE — A group of 20 middle and high school students from Maryland and as far away as Puerto Rico are in the final week of the AgDiscovery summer program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Participants are experiencing firsthand some of the careers that they could pursue in agriculture and related fields and are interacting with scientists conducting state-of-the-art research.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Inspection Service, AgDiscovery is a free opportunity for the future workforce to not only explore agricultural sciences, but to also experience learning and living on a college campus. UMES’ program is in its 10th year and has impacted over 170 youth.
Anh Nguyen of Princess Anne, is enjoying the experience, “going around the campus and being in the classrooms and labs learning a lot in a short time.” The incoming junior at Washington High School said she wants to pursue a career in science and is “exploring all of my options” through the program. When asked what activity has been her favorite, her response, “I like food safety and working in the lab, looking at specimens, collecting data and doing research.”
“Agriculture is so much more than farming,” said Corrie Cotton, a research assistant professor in the Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Sciences and the program director at UMES. “It touches every aspect of our lives.”
“Participants learn about the diverse field through a series of student-centered labs, workshops, research projects and field trips,” Cotton said.
This year’s program includes animal care and veterinary medicine, soil health and water analysis, poultry research, urban forestry, small ruminants, 4-H STEM, plant breeding, food safety, Geographic Information Systems and GPS, Asian vegetables, the UMES orchard and edible insects. The group also visited agricultural facilities in the state, such as the Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge, the Wye Research and Education Center in Queenstown, and the Caroline County 4-H Center and an alpaca farm in Denton.
— Gail Stephens is the agricultural communications and media associate, School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences, at UMES.