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AgDiscovery provides interesting experiences for teens

PINE BLUFF — When asked the proverbial question, “How did I spend my summer vacation?” eight Pine Bluff area students can respond like only a few others. Banding geese, extracting strawberry DNA and ear tagging cattle are only a few of the things they did during the 2013 AgDiscovery Program at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

Fourteen students from Arkansas, Florida and Kansas spent two weeks living on the UAPB campus and interacting with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) professionals and university professors. The teens, ages 14-16, visited UAPB’s Aquaculture Research Station, a working dairy and got a taste of life in developing countries through an overnight stay at the Global Gateway Project at Heifer International in Perryville.

The students also toured the Arkansas State Vet Tech School in Beebe and visited the Little Rock Air Force Base where they learned about wildlife management at airports. But, it wasn’t all work and no play. They also went to the Clinton Presidential Library and Magic Springs.

“These students are among the best and brightest; they will be our future leaders in the field of applied science and technology,” said Dr. Edmund Buckner, associate dean for 1890 programs and AgDiscovery program director.

With many USDA scientists poised for retirement, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), teamed up with selected universities to sponsor AgDiscovery, where teens learn about careers with USDA and APHIS and the high school courses necessary for majors to qualify for those careers. There is no charge for the two-week program, but participants are responsible for transportation to and from campus.

For more information about AgDiscovery, visit www.aphis.usda.gov/agdiscovery. UAPB has been one of the host universities since 2008 and was the first university west of the Mississippi to host AgDiscovery.