Last week 16 high school students from around the country visited University of Arizona - Yuma and UA’s main campus as part of a two-week AgDiscovery Camp. The camp helps high school students learn about agriculture careers in plant and animal science, wildlife management, and agribusiness.
Each year, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service partners with the University of Arizona College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALES) and UA Yuma to provide AgDiscovery. The program allows students to live on a college campus and learn about agriculture careers from university professors, scientists, and administrative professionals who work for the U.S. Government in a variety of fields.
Students study a wide variety of topics including the life cycles and habits of insects. Dr. Salvador Vitanza Hedman, an entomologist at the USDA-APHIS-PPQ in Nogales, AZ explained to students the importance of identifying insects and inspecting agricultural products that come to the U.S.
Students also visited Dr. Jerry Lopez’s lab and learned about food safety and bacteria growth. They heard about research related to microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses, and how that research applies to careers such as food safety specialist and biotechnologist, as well as the One Health Initiative. The students also had the opportunity to examine cells and tissues under a microscope to identify diseases.
To learn about wildlife conservation and management, students got a behind the scenes tour at the Reid Park Zoo. They fed an anteater and learned about the veterinary services provided, as well as nutrition for animals.
Students also learned about the business side of the agriculture industry. They visited Condor Seed in Yuma, Arizona, where they received a tour of the facility led by Tom Prata. He highlighted how everything starts with a seed and explained the process that goes into providing quality seed to feed the growing population.
University of Arizona is one of 22 universities around the nation participating in AgDiscovery. The program is co-sponsored by Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Plant Protection and Quarantine and Veterinary Services units.