VSU Accepting Applications for Summer High School Agriculture Program

April 6, 2016

Extension Specialist Dr. Reza Rafie gives high school students insights on berry farming during the 2015 summer enrichment program.

Extension Specialist Dr. Reza Rafie gives high school students insights on berry farming during the 2015 summer enrichment program.

Contact: Michelle Olgers, VSU College of Agriculture, 804-524-6964, molgers@vsu.edu

Virginia State University Summer Enrichment Program Preps High Schoolers For A Future In Agriculture

Free On-Campus Program Now Accepting Applications from Rising Juniors and Seniors

Petersburg, VA––High school juniors and seniors with an interest in science or agriculture are encouraged to apply for Virginia State University’s free Summer Enrichment Program. The five-day college-immersion experience provides qualified students with experiential learning activities in the classroom, lab and field, focusing on topics to include water and environmental issues, production of food and ornamental crops, and relationships between agriculture and the natural world. It also covers resume-building and career opportunities. The program will take place mostly on VSU’s campus and its nearby 417-acre Randolph Farm. A supervised five-night stay in one of VSU’s dormitories makes the program accessible to students from distances beyond a typical daily commute.

“Today’s students need to be exposed to the many issues and challenges related to agriculture and natural resources,” said Dr. Chris Catanzaro, Interim Chair of VSU’s Department of Agriculture. "It’s easier to get them excited once they see the relevance to their daily lives.”  

Catanzaro continued, "What many people don’t realize is that agriculture and forestry are the leading employers in Virginia—by a lot. An agriculture degree enables students to pursue high-paying, recession-proof jobs either in the U.S. or internationally.”

According to a study done by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Purdue University, employers have 57,900 job openings in agriculture and related fields each year. But just 35,400 students graduate annually with a college degree in agriculture. That adds up to a shortage of 22,500 agriculture graduates each year. That’s also why USA Today listed careers in agriculture and natural resources among the “top 10 paying jobs in the country” last year. With starting salaries over $51,000, and with those who work their way up to management positions generally earning $800,000 more than the typical college graduate during their careers, a degree in agriculture can be financially rewarding.

Admission to the Summer Enrichment Program is restricted to rising high school juniors and seniors interested in the plant, soil and environmental sciences. Applicants are required to complete and submit an online application, including a one-page essay (200-300 words) describing career goals and reasons for interest in the summer enrichment program. Applications can be found at www.agriculture.vsu.edu/high-school-summer-programs.php and are due May 6, 2016. Applicants who are admitted will be notified no later than June 1.

The program is conducted by the Department of Agriculture with funding by USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture.

For more information, contact Dr. Chris Catanzaro, Interim Chair, Department of Agriculture, Virginia State University, at ccatanzaro@vsu.edu or call (804) 524-5255.