USDA Selects 2023 Class of E. Kika De La Garza Fellows

Wednesday, August 9, 2023
E. Kika De La Garza Science Fellow Samuel Discua Duarte and Education Fellow Baleshka Brenes

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently welcomed 30 faculty and staff from Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) around the nation as the 2023 class of E. Kika De La Garza Fellows. Among those selected was University of Arizona-Yuma’s Baleshka Brenes, director of agriculture programs, whose lifelong commitment is to support hispanic and other underserved populations. Her position allows her to conduct community outreach and write grants to promote programs in agriculture that contribute to student self-efficacy and degree completion. Also selected was Samuel Discua Duarte, postdoctoral research associate and lecturer at the College of Agriculture, Life, and Environmental Sciences' Department of Entomology. His current research focuses on different aspects of the thrips transmitted disease Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus (INSV), a major threat to lettuce crop production in the United States that costs California growers $50 to $100 million in losses annually.

E. Kika De La Garza Education and Science Fellows will meet with leaders from different USDA agencies in the Washington, D.C. area, where they can learn about national and regional issues, policy making and research, and spend an additional week collaborating with top scientists from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) or the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Soil Survey Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. “The selected fellows will meet directly with USDA agency representatives to learn about the opportunities available to their respective institutions and their students,” said Dr. Lisa R. Ramírez, director of USDA’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement. “This program exemplifies USDA’s commitment to ensuring equitable access to the department’s programs, services and resources by underserved groups.”

Learn more about the 2023 E. Kika De La Garza Fellows

Elena Lopez
Media Relations, College of Agriculture, Life, and Environmental Sciences