Nigerian Tobechukwu Opara is among 30 university students that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has picked to attend its 2018 Agricultural Outlook Forum through the USDA Student Diversity Program.
Senior Tobechukwu “Toby” Opara, along with sophomore Alexis Doon are two UMES undergraduates who will join 28 other undergraduates and graduate students for a week in Washington D.C. culminating in their participation in the USDA’s largest annual meeting February 22 to 23 that is expected to attract more than 2,000 people.
“These students are the next generation of agriculture, and it is important for the USDA to support their training as future agriculture professionals,” USDA chief economist Robert Johansson said.
“At the Ag Outlook Forum, (they) will hear current leaders share their vision for agriculture as they begin to map out their own careers.”
Doon and Opara, dean’s list students and members of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, credit UMES chapter adviser Karl Binns Jr. with encouraging them to apply, which included submitting an essay on “agricultural careers and challenges.”
Opara, who is from Nigeria and majoring in biology, said, “I want to be part of that contingent that is going to help feed the world, especially in nations that need help producing food.”
Opara has accepted a job offer to be a poultry plant operations manager with Perdue, starting this summer.
Doon grew up in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring and is studying agriculture. She hopes to go on to veterinary school.
“I’ve always loved animals,” she said, “I felt agriculture was a major I would enjoy because it would enable me to be around them, and learn how you raise them in a farm setting.”
The USDA program, now in its 11th year, gives undergraduate and graduate students opportunities in contemporary agribusiness, scientific research, and agricultural policy.