Michigan State University Migrant Student Services has launched its National Migrant Scholars Internship Initiative. The pilot program is a partnership between MSU Migrant Student Services, CoBank, Farm Credit and the National HEP/CAMP Association.
When fully implemented, the program, housed and administered by MSU MSS, is designed to encourage and support students enrolled in 41 different CAMP projects throughout the United States in finding paid experiential learning opportunities to better prepare them for their careers.
“This program focuses on providing CAMP students with non-traditional internship opportunities,” said Luis Alonzo Garcia, director of MSU MSS. “Because of their migrant work experience, CAMP students are very familiar with the farming part of the agriculture industry. But we want them to look at the industry from a different perspective so they understand the wide variety of professional opportunities that exist, ranging from science to business to communications to accounting.”
The national initiative is phase two of the pilot program. Phase one took place during the 2015 academic year, when only MSU CAMP students were placed in internships, thanks to a $100,000 gift from CoBank. The CoBank Internship Fellows Program supported nine professional internships for MSU CAMP students during the summer of 2015 and will support eight to 10 more internships for MSU CAMP students during summer 2016.
“CoBank and the entire Farm Credit System are committed to the future of U.S. agriculture,” said Rodney Patterson, CoBank’s corporate diversity officer. “The students who participated in the first phase of the pilot brought with them their own understanding of the industry as well as a strong desire to succeed. They proved to be valuable assets for participating employers and we hope to expand upon that success by opening the program to additional students and employers.”
During phase two, thanks to a $250,000 gift from CoBank, MSU Migrant Student Services will collaborate with at least five CAMP projects across the nation; place 20 to 25 interns throughout the 2016 calendar year; and continue to build a network of employers to participate in the program.
CAMP students gain a wide variety of benefits by participating in the internship program, Garcia said. Additionally, participating employers are able to identify potential employees with strong work ethics and valuable skill sets; cost share intern wages or turn unpaid internships into paid internships; and gain brand exposure in new communities.
HEP and CAMP are funded by U.S. Department of Education - Office of Migrant Education grants and are administered by universities, colleges and non-profit organizations nationwide to serve students from migrant or seasonal farmworker families.
Serving more than 6,000 students annually, HEP helps students who have dropped out of high school attain their High School Equivalency Credential.
CAMP assists students in their first year of college with academic, personal and financial support, annually serving 2,400 migrant participants. Overall, nearly three-quarters of all CAMP students graduate with baccalaureate degrees.