Students Learn Vet and Land Sciences through Ag Discovery

Florida A&M treated several young scientists this month to a two-week practical journey into the world of animal and environmental sciences.

For the eighth, consecutive year, FAMU hosted the annual U.S. Department of Agriculture-sponsored Ag Discovery program, bringing together teens from around the country to the state capital. One student traveled from Puerto Rico to attend.

FAMU College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture (CESTA) coordinated the project. CESTA student Aaron Jackson said Ag Discovery gives students a rare, hands-on look at these fields, calling it an eye-opener for most of these teens. “Working with agriculture isn’t just on the field and working as a veterinary [professional] isn’t just in the office with cats and dogs,” said Jackson, who was an Ag Discovery counselor.

Students toured the Jacksonville Zoo, FAMU’s Farm in Quincy, Fla, the University of Central Florida (UCF) center and Tallahassee animal shelters. Ag Discovery partners with only seven other campuses to expose hopeful veterinary and agricultural students to the field. Students are selected through an application process, run by the USDA, which includes a personal essay. A few are selected to learn about careers in agriculture, directly from professors, veterinarians, animal scientist and botanists.

CESTA faculty advisor Keawin Sarjeant Ph. D. said students were excited to have the Ag Discovery experience. “These are opportunities that other high schools don’t have the opportunity to do,” said Sarjeant. FAMU can also advertise its strengths in a bid to recruit new students.

Karla Ortiz, 15 from Puerto Rico, described Ag Discovery as a chance to experience “something you can’t learn in school.” Ortiz said she enjoyed seeing a vet perform surgery at an animal shelter. She is certain now that she wants to become a veterinarian.

The program ends Sunday, June 26.