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OSU hosts agriculture institute for state's multicultural youth

Thursday, June 7, 2007

STILLWATER, Okla., June 6, 2007 -- The Retired Educators for Youth Agricultural Programs, a non-profit organization created by Oklahoma teachers to help minority youth realize their potential through opportunities in agriculture, has again partnered with Oklahoma State University to present a summer academy.

From June 6–8, OSU will host the 2007 REYAP Agriculture Science and Technology Institute. It begins Wednesday at noon at OSU’s Stillwater campus and will include two-and-a-half-days of research workshops and personal and professional development activities.

While emphasizing the importance of science and math study, the institute will introduce approximately 50 students from state high schools to agricultural degree and career options.

“We are very pleased to host the REYAP institute and look forward to providing information and hands-on experiences to our state’s multicultural youth about the role of science in agriculture and new career opportunities in agriculture,” said Bob Whitson, vice president of OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. “Hosting this institute is a unique opportunity for us to show REYAP students what is available to them.”

Food safety and price uncertainties and the drive for bio-solutions in health and medicine, renewable energy and environmental fields point to the nation’s need for more agricultural scientists and researchers. Institute participants will learn about the relevance of agricultural degree programs such as biosystems engineering, biochemistry and animal science in the face of these and other global problems.

The institute complements REYAP’s mission by highlighting the role of science and technology in agriculture and introducing chapter members to research and innovation.

“We want the students to know about non-traditional agriculture careers as well as traditional careers, but non-traditional – the agricultural engineering, genetics, biotechnology, biochemistry – is where most of their interests lie,” said Rita Combs, executive director of REYAP.

“The students will take what they’ve learned and spend the rest of the year completing science projects that will be the basis for entries in REYAP contests here in Oklahoma,” Combs said. “And then they will compete nationally at the MANNRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences) annual conference.”

REYAP was founded in 1994 by the late Sam Combs Jr., W.G. Parker, James R. Johnson, A.W. Hampton and M.E. Gamble. Its mission is to help African-American, Native American and Hispanic youth experience career-building opportunities and learn important life skills through agriculture related activities.

Oklahoma’s only university with a statewide presence, Oklahoma State University is a five-campus, public land-grant educational system that improves the lives of people in Oklahoma, the nation, and the world through integrated, high-quality teaching, research and outreach.  Established in 1890, the Stillwater campus is the home of the OSU System.  The STATE’s university boasts students from all 50 states and nearly 120 nations, and has more than 200,000 alumni throughout the world.  

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