Dr. Kirk Braden and Dr. Loree Branham, faculty in Angelo State University’s Agriculture Department, have been awarded a three-year, $270,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a new meat and food science student research and outreach project.
Awarded through the USDA’s Hispanic Serving Institutions Education Grants program, the grant will fund a project titled “Developing Tomorrow’s Meat and Food Scientists: A Program to Recruit and Retain Under-represented Students.”   The project will target high school students in Texas Education Service Center Regions 15, 18, 19 and 20, which are headquartered in San Angelo, Midland, El Paso and San Antonio, as well as ASU undergraduate students.

The primary component of the grant project will provide distinctive research opportunities to participating students in the fields of meat and food science.

“The research components will be two-fold,” Braden said.  “The first element will largely be an effort to immerse interested high school students, in an attempt to ultimately recruit these students, in food and agricultural science as part of a summer research camp.  Secondly, the campus component will be largely interactive undergraduate experiential learning, consisting of meat, food and animal science research partially integrated into ASU’s existing Undergraduate Research Initiative.”

The grant will also provide funding support for scholarships aimed predominantly at minority and other under-represented student groups, as well as for student and faculty travel to various professional conferences related to meat and food science.

“Our program” Braden said, “aims to convince Hispanic and other minority students and their parents, teachers and counselors through outreach that food and agriculture career paths are vast and growing on an ever-changing, globally dynamic scale.  We will then recruit, retain and prepare those students for rewarding careers in those fields.”

“We are very excited,” Branham added, “about the recruitment and educational opportunities this grant will provide for students throughout Texas.  Through various agriculture literacy outreach efforts, we aim to spark the interest of students in the variety of job opportunities available in today’s ag and food industries.”

For more information, call Braden at 325-486-6746 or Branham at 325-486-6749.  More details on ASU’s agriculture programs are available online at www.angelo.edu/dept/agriculture/.