We Are Spartans


MSU teaching future agricultural scientists

Posted at 8:54 AM, Feb 23, 2018

Michigan State University's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is reaching out to young students right here in Mid-Michigan.

FOX 47's Lora Painter finds out how professors and the departments are zeroing in on local students to help build the next generation of scientists who will feed our planet.


The STEM disciplines in the agricultural sciences are undeniably vital to our national and global security and economy. These disciplines include the applied biology fields of animal science, crop and soil sciences, forestry, entomology, fisheries and wildlife, food science, and horticulture, and all are on the Homeland Security list of disciplines that are critical to national security. They address challenges pertaining to food, energy, and the environment (FEE). These STEM-FEE disciplines research and seek to ameliorate global problems related to food security, soil health, climate change, environmental sustainability and a host of other issues that negatively impact life and/or quality of life. Yet, there are insufficient numbers of graduates from these disciplines to meet scientific and workforce demands, resulting in growing concern by government agencies, the scientific community, and STEM-FEE industries. Michigan State University's retention rates approach 90% for most of the disciplines and 6-year graduation rates exceed 80%. Career opportunities are excellent and summer internships are readily available.

Too few students are entering these disciplines -- a problem that can be addressed by effective recruitment. This project seeks to recruit at least 24 high school, community college, and/or university students from undeclared majors via a multifaceted program that engages potential students at the indicated academic levels utilizing different experiential, interactive programming to introduce students to STEM-FEE disciplines and the national and global problems they encounter, so students may "try on" the disciplines. STEM-FEE scholars will be selected mainly from those in the recruitment program. Selected Scholars will be admitted via two cohorts, the first ≥ 8 students and the second ≥ 16 students. Scholars will receive scholarships up to $10,000 the first year and $5,000 in subsequent years for a maximum potential of $25,000, depending upon financial eligibility. Scholars will work closely with a mentor, be part of a cohort that has informal "chat" sessions with scientists from on- and off-campus, visit research sites, and have opportunities for undergraduate research and for paid summer internships stemming from the disciplines' close working relationships with their many STEM-FEE industry collaborators.

Intellectual Merit:
The objectives are to (1) develop mechanisms for recruiting low income, high achieving students, including underrepresented students to STEM-FEE disciplines while equaling or exceeding the current high retention and graduation rates, (2) obtain empirical data to help assess why so few students enter these careers that have high job demand and good salaries and (3) utilize the resulting information to further design and assess effective recruitment programs.

The National Science Foundation Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in Food, Energy and the Environment (NSF-STEM-FEE) Academy is an after school program developed as a component of the recruitment and outreach arm of the recently awarded NSF STEM grant (http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2017/msu-nets-1m-nsf-grant-to-recruit-prepare-students-for-stem-careers/) in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The program will focus on seven STEM disciplines including animal science