USDA/1890 Scholars Program Promotes Education and Employment in Agriculture and Ag-Related Industries

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 20, 2017

Contact: Michelle Olgers, Marketing & Communications Dept., 804-524-6964,

Ivi Mitchell, a sophomore enrolled in Virginia State University’s (VSU) College of Agriculture, is the university’s newest USDA/1890 scholar.

The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program was established in 1992 as part of a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the 1890 historically black land-grant universities. Scholarship recipients must pursue a bachelor’s degree in any field of study in agriculture, food, natural resource sciences or related disciplines at an 1890 land-grant university. The scholarship covers full tuition, university fees, books, room and board for the term of the scholarship. Satisfactory academic performance and progression toward a bachelor’s degree are required for annual renewal of the scholarship.

Scholars also complete a paid summer internship with the sponsoring USDA agency. Upon completing their undergraduate program, scholars are encouraged to apply for a position at USDA, but are free to apply at any other department or organization.

Upon receiving the news, Mitchell said, “I felt ecstatic. Getting the scholarship means that I’m able to be more focused without having to worry about where my funding will be coming from. It was a burden lifted.”

“There are an abundance of opportunities available to students, like Ivi, who are considering a career in agriculture, or a related discipline. It is estimated that, between 2015 and 2020, nearly 60,000 jobs in the agriculture, food, renewable resources and environment fields will become available every year, but only 35,000 graduates with agriculture-related degrees will be available to fill them,” said Katrina Johnson, USDA’s 1890 program liaison at VSU. 

“The awarding of a USDA/1890 National Scholarship to Ivi Mitchell serves as yet another example of USDA’s confidence in VSU and its College of Agriculture to prepare the next generation of talent needed to propel agriculture forward in the U.S. and the world,” said Dr. M. Ray McKinnie, dean/1890 administrator, VSU College of Agriculture. “Ivi has earned this opportunity, and her scholarship and work ethic are emblematic of the depth and quality of students now studying agriculture.”

Mitchell, a native of Columbia, SC, is studying agriculture with a concentration in plant sciences and a minor in Spanish. In high school, Mitchell was introduced to the National FFA Organization (formerly known as the Future Farmers of America). Her involvement with the National FFA Organization sparked her interest in agriculture and her desire to pursue it in undergraduate studies. She chose VSU because she wanted to broaden her horizons by attending school out of state, and it had the concentrations she was interested in studying. Mitchell plans to pursue a master’s degree and a Ph.D., then work doing research for the USDA.

VSU currently has two other USDA scholars, Stacey Bradshaw, who will complete her undergraduate studies this fall, and Keia Jones, who will graduate in spring 2019.

The USDA/1890 National Scholarship Program is now accepting applications for 2018. The program is open to high school seniors, rising college sophomores and juniors who exhibit exemplary leadership traits and demonstrated community service. Students must be U.S. citizens to apply. The application deadline is January 31, 2018. For information on the program and eligibility requirements, visit


GeneralErica Shambley