Today’s agriculture is much more than just driving a tractor and waking up early to feed the cows. It is robotics, genetics, marketing, computer programming, food safety, and much more. Learn about the everyday links between food and farm, and how you might find your future in agriculture. Find out what USDA can offer you both in the classroom and in your community.
Select USDA Resources for Students
Food waste is a problem everyone can tackle, including our nation’s youth. As part of , the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is launching Ace the Waste! A student competition for food waste reduction ideas. This first-ever competition calls on students to come up with creative solutions to reduce food loss and waste in the United States. Students may submit 1-2 page proposals or 1-2 minute videos. One winner will be selected from each of two categories – ages 11-14 and ages 15-18. The deadline for proposals is 5 p.m. EDT, Friday, May 24, 2019. Winners will be notified by June 12, 2019. Learn more about competition instructions (PDF, 238 KB), and submit your Ace the Waste! ideas today!
AgDiscovery is a two- to four-week summer outreach program to help middle and high school students explore careers in plant and animal science, wildlife management, and agribusiness. Students stay on a college campus and learn about agriculture from university professors, scientists, and administrative professionals in a variety of fields. Students gain experience through hands-on labs, workshops, field trips, and team-building activities.
Students See Their Future in Science
When Becky Zhong was in high school, she applied for the AgDiscovery program, which supported her two-week stay on a college campus to learn about plant science. “Through AgDiscovery, it was really helpful, as a high schooler, to understand what plant pathology was, what plant quarantine was. … It was a wonderful experience for me to see careers and potential job opportunities,” Zhong said.
USDA makes loans to individual young people to start and operate income-producing projects of modest size in connection with their participation in 4-H clubs, FFA, a Tribal youth group, or similar agricultural youth organization - providing an opportunity for the young person to acquire experience and education in agriculture-related skills.
USDA Helps Young Entrepreneurs
Aaron Muhammad of Dawson, Georgia, had no prior farm experience, but decided to try something new and discovered his passion for raising chickens. He obtained a youth loan through the local Farm Service Agency (FSA) to purchase his chickens and to build a coop. “They helped me financially and mentally by giving me tips for building a business as far as what to do and what not to do,” Muhammad said.
Available to anyone 14 and older, Earth Team volunteers work with conservation professionals on private lands to improve soil quality, conserve water, improve air quality and enhance wildlife habitat. Opportunities include full- or part-time; outdoor or indoor activities; and as an individual or part of a group.
Stewards of the Land – Chugach Children’s Forest Initiative
With support from USDA, the Chugach Children’s Forest Initiative introduces diverse, young Alaskans to their wild backyard. Despite the abundance of wild places in Alaska, many Alaskan youth have never ventured outside their local communities to explore Alaska’s vast expanse of public lands. Learn how nine students spent a month in the Chugach National Forest in Alaska exploring careers in public land management and providing much needed conservation work to the area.
MyPlate Kids' Place is a great resource for kids, parents, and teachers. Resources include games, activity sheets, kid-friendly recipes, and physical activity tips. Pledge to become a MyPlate Champion today!
Make Your Volunteer Experience Count
Are you ready to graduate and get a job? You can build your resume with volunteer experience. Volunteer experience can help qualify you for a job at USDA and it receives the same credit as comparable paid experience. Learn more from the Office of Personnel Management.
Volunteer to Career
Amanda Carrell’s two passions in life are volunteering and agriculture. While an agronomy student at Arkansas State University, she began volunteering in the Earth Team Volunteer program at the Jonesboro, Ark., Field and Area Service Centers. Among her projects, she assisted civil engineers with the survey and design of a 300-acre irrigation reservoir. “It was worth it,” said Carrell about volunteering despite her busy schedule. “One of the greatest experiences I got out of it was how to transition from a student to a professional."Read her success story »
The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program is a partnership between USDA and the (PDF, 1.2 MB). The program provides full tuition, fees, books, room and board to students pursuing degrees in agriculture, food, natural resource sciences, or related academic disciplines. When the student has completed the academic and summer work requirements of the scholarship, USDA may at its discretion convert the student to a permanent employee without further competition.