Applications are now being accepted for AgDiscovery, a residential career and science exploration program for teens. March 25 is the application deadline, Willie Columbus, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) educational outreach coordinator and AgDiscovery program director, said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and UAPB have teamed up to host AgDiscovery June 12-25 on the UAPB campus. The program will incorporate animal science, plant science and agribusiness disciplines.

“Because vaccinations for COVID-19 are now available and being administered, we are planning to host our program on campus this summer,” he said. “We are also making contingency plans to host the program virtually in the event it is deemed necessary.”

Columbus said AgDiscovery is a unique opportunity for students to gain a firsthand look at the many career paths open to them in the agricultural sciences. For those interested in an agricultural career, the program is a great way to get started. 

Students participate in hands-on labs, workshops and field trips, as well as team building activities and diversity workshops.

Room and board, supplies, activity fees and meals are covered by APHIS. Parents and guardians are only responsible for the students’ transportation to and from UAPB.

Students currently in grades 8-11 are eligible for the UAPB AgDiscovery program. They can apply online at www.aphis.usda.gov/agdiscovery.

Although online applications are preferred, students can also submit an application packet via U.S. mail postmarked no later than March 25 to USDA-APHIS AgDiscovery Program, ATTN: Tammy Lowry, Office of Civil Rights, Diversity, and Inclusion, 4700 River Road, Unit 92, Suite 6C-04, Riverdale, MD 20737-1234.

It is important that applicants follow directions carefully as APHIS will discard incomplete applications, Columbus said.

“Only one large envelope containing the application form, essay and sealed letters of recommendation will be accepted per applicant,” he said. “Do not include your birth certificate, news clippings, awards, photos, transcripts, report cards or other documents.”

Enrollment in AgDiscovery is limited. Students accepted will be notified the week of

April 16. Non-selected applicants will receive a letter in the mail at the end of May. 

Although students submit their application packets directly to APHIS, they can select their host university. 

There are 21 universities participating in AgDiscovery 2021. This year, some of the universities are only offering virtual camp experiences due to the pandemic.

A complete list of host universities, brochures, information and application forms and instructions are available online at www.aphis.usda.gov/agdiscovery. In case of questions or requests, students can also contact Columbus at (870) 575-7145 or columbusw@uapb.edu.