If You Feed Them, They Will Come
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
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If a student studying in agriculture is looking for an inviting place to study or work on their homework, a great place to go would be Study and Snacks in the Ferguson College of Agriculture Student Success Center.
Study and Snacks is a free program open to all undergraduate students hosted Tuesdays through Thursdays from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Students meet in Room 103 Agricultural Hall, known to most students as the Fish Bowl.
In Fall 2017, José Uscanga, the director of multicultural programs for the Ferguson College of Agriculture, noticed students in Agricultural Hall could use drop-in resources for getting help with their classes.
Although the LASSO Center in the Classroom Building offers tutoring, some students needed a more come-and-go environment specific to their curriculum, he said.
“Students and their successes are important to me,” Uscanga said. “I wanted to make sure our students felt like they had a place to get help.”
Uscanga researched the student drop rate in various classes, he said.
“I looked into reasons why students were leaving,” Uscanga said. “There was no tutoring offered for some of the classes. Students who were dropping out were failing.”
At that time, Uscanga also noticed few food resources were available for Ferguson College of Agriculture students, he said.
This inspired him to incorporate snacks into the program, he said. In Fall 2017, Study and Snacks was born.
The Ferguson College of Agriculture as well as various companies who work with the college donate the snacks for the program.
Tess Haddock has served as a Study and Snacks mentor for three years. She started attending the program after pandemic online courses because she felt detached from campus and missed interacting with others, she said.
Once she started attending, she wanted to learn more about how she could be a part of the program and give back to the college at the same time, she added.
Haddock and the other students who serve as mentors are more than just tutors, she said.
“A lot of students are nervous to get tutoring, but this program is about more than just classwork,” Haddock said. “We not only help with homework and exams, but also we help answer questions about how to succeed in college and life.”
She was one of only five mentors when she started. Now, the program includes 12 mentors and continues to improve, expanding from once a week to three days a week, she said.
“Students can come and go as they please, even if it’s just to grab a snack and hang out,” Haddock said. “It really is a comfortable environment with a great community. It’s not like regular tutoring that students think of.”
Elizabeth Pribil, a food sciences senior, is one of the newest mentors. She started attending the program during her freshman year when classes moved online. She received help with the classes she needed and was able to network with other students, she said.
“After I started attending the program as a freshman, I noticed it was relaxed and a student-friendly environment,” Pribil said. “The mentors there assisted me with classwork and also provided me with a lot of valuable advice about navigating my way through college during COVID-19.
“The impact these students had on me inspired me to do the same for others,” she said. “I still visit with some of these students today and am grateful Study and Snacks provided me with lifelong connections.”
Uscanga plans to offer more space and times for the Study and Snacks program when the college moves into the New Frontiers Agricultural Hall in Fall 2024, he said. He would like to install a refrigerator so the program can expand to offer cold products and healthier options, he added.
Students looking for ways to be involved in the college can become a mentor and get paid. Uscanga interviews potential mentors and ensures those hired receive training on how to help others.
Story By: Sydni Blevins | Cowboy Journal