The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced two initiatives on Tuesday that aim to give Hispanic communities greater access to the agency’s services and improve representation of Hispanic individuals in agriculture education.
The first of these efforts is a renewed partnership with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) to create the USDA-HACU Leadership Group. The group brings together several USDA administrators and HACU members, all of whom are presidents or chancellors of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), to ensure equitable participation of the Hispanic community in USDA education and employment programs, services, and resources.
“USDA is committed to centering Latino voices and experiences to provide equitable access to programming,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release. “Our partnership with HACU through this Leadership Group is crucial to providing leadership and strategic direction for USDA’s work with Hispanic-Serving Institutions.”
The second USDA initiative announced is the 2023 E. Kika De La Garza Fellowship Program, which comprises two fellowships to improve the understanding of the USDA and the federal government’s role in agriculture.
The Education and High School Fellowships invites faculty and staff from HSIs and predominantly-Hispanic school districts to meet with USDA scientists and leaders in Washington, D.C., for a one-week program in the summer. Science faculty at HSIs who participate in the Science Fellowships will spend one week in the capital with USDA leaders and another week meeting with scientists at a USDA research facility.
The goal of the fellowships is to pass on knowledge about the USDA and federal government to HSIs and Hispanic and Latinx communities. Applications are open through March 1, 2023.