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History Highlight: APHIS Launches AgDiscovery Program for Students

photo of two farmers holding a US flag

Designed to help middle and high school students learn about careers in plant and animal science, wildlife management, and agribusiness, the AgDiscovery summer outreach program began in 2002 with 12 students. It started as a collaboration between APHIS and Alcorn State University in Mississippi, based on the premise of the former Ag Academy Camp, a concept created in 1999 by a few professors there to entice youth toward careers in agriculture. In 2004, AgDiscovery was established as a national APHIS program, with six additional colleges and universities participating.

AgDiscovery Partnership Today
Today, in partnership with 21 colleges and universities nationwide, the APHIS Office of Civil Rights, Diversity, and Inclusion leads the AgDiscovery program. The program includes 12 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and 9 land-grant institutions collaborating with APHIS to nurture future generations of agriculture professionals. AgDiscovery is a unique opportunity for students to explore agricultural sciences and gain knowledge about careers in animal and plant disciplines, wildlife management, veterinary medicine, biotechnology, entomology, food safety, food production, agribusiness, forestry, communications, and much more.

photo of AgDiscovery students in a labAgDiscovery 2021 students from Coppin State University learning in the lab.

Who Can Participate?
The program—which is completely free to participants, other than travel—is open to 7th thru 12th grade students (grade range varies by institution) who are interested in agricultural sciences, veterinary medicine, agribusiness, and related fields. The students live on a college campus for 2 to 4 weeks and are taught by university professors and experts throughout APHIS. The students learn about the APHIS mission and programs, are exposed to a variety of APHIS activities in the field, and explore various career paths connected with agriculture.

photo of Tuskeegee University AgDiscovery class of 2021Tuskegee University AgDiscovery class of 2021.

AgDiscovery Goes Virtual
With the COVID-19 pandemic, most host universities adopted a virtual camp format for AgDiscovery 2021. Kits and supplies were mailed to the students in advance. The students attended virtual presentations on such topics as blood typing, insects and agriculture, chicken swabbing, animal care, plant pathology, plant biology, nutrition, genetics, forestry and natural resources, communications, and more. The students also participated in hands-on activities and took virtual field trips, which included farm investigations, meat and dairy tours, visits to APHIS plant inspection stations, local zoo inspections, and tours of the respective college campuses.

If you know teens who may be interested in AgDiscovery, they can find details on the APHIS website.

photo of AgDiscovery 2021 students learning about animal health in the field.AgDiscovery 2021 students at Tuskegee University learn about animal health in the field.

Want to learn more? Check out the “Securing the Homeland: APHIS in the 2000s” StoryMap.


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