The 1890 Center of Excellence to Motivate and Educate for Achievement seeks to boost the collective capacity of the 1890 land-grant institutions to provide supportive learning environments and programs to increase the diversity of the U.S. agricultural workforce spanning careers in food, agriculture, natural resources and human (FANH) sciences.
The MEA Center of Excellence was funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to increase the diversity of the agricultural workforce in the United States. Our world needs a diverse and highly skilled workforce to meet the food, clothing and natural resource needs of a growing population.
As the global leader in agriculture, the U.S. must take a leading role in meeting this need. While the 1890 land-grant universities were created largely to provide educational opportunities for African Americans and other minority groups and help address the development of this workforce, their success has been hampered by the lack of student interest, agriculture literacy, STEM skills, financial resources and inter-institutional coordination to overcome barriers to attracting and graduating students. Consequently, there is a need to develop collaborative programs and initiatives at 1890 land-grant universities to significantly increase the number of underrepresented individuals in agricultural careers.
Currently, it is more the exception than the rule that universities, even those with long-standing connections, work together on initiatives to recruit, retain and graduate underrepresented students so that they are ready to become successful agricultural professionals in the areas of the food, agriculture, natural resources and human (FANH) sciences and STEM fields. This center provides a framework for creating and strengthening successful collaborations and sharing best practices to create a more diverse, better prepared agricultural workforce.