14 March 2023 – Makaila Holston Smith, a junior biorenewable systems major in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a Future Leader in Agriculture.
Holston Smith will attend the USDA’s 2023 Agricultural Outlook Forum in Washington, D.C., later this month to receive her award. She is one of 30 students selected to participate from universities across the country.
The Future Leaders in Agriculture program introduces undergraduate and graduate students to USDA and its partner organizations. The program provides learning opportunities in contemporary agribusiness, scientific research and agricultural policy for students majoring in agriculture-related subjects.
Students will participate in a USDA briefing and discuss career development with leaders in academia, government and industry during the week of the forum. They also will tour the nation’s capital.
Holston Smith, of Pittsburgh, said, “When I read about what we’d be doing at the forum, what appealed most to me was that I’d be able to gain insight on upcoming trends for agriculture.”
Holston Smith added that she is excited about interacting with various agricultural specialists, including policymakers and agricultural industry members.
“I’m looking forward to having a whole week of immersion in everything agriculture as well as getting different perspectives on current agriculture issues,” she said.
Siobhan Fathel, Holston Smith’s academic adviser, said she is thrilled for her.
“Since our first meeting, Makaila has shared her interests in sustainability and urban agriculture,” said Fathel, assistant teaching professor of agricultural and biological engineering. “I know she’ll make the most of her trip to Washington, and I’m proud she’ll be there representing our department and college.”
Holston Smith said her application to the Future Leaders in Agriculture program included an essay about the gentrification of and disparity between some neighborhoods in Pittsburgh.
“You can walk down one street, and there’s a Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, but then you go to the other end of the neighborhood, and it’s abandoned buildings and a corner store with limited healthy options,” she said.
Holston Smith noted that she is passionate about supporting her community’s health and wellness, and she gives back in several ways. She has spent years volunteering as a tutor and program coordinator at the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh. She also started a foundation, Volunteer Community Gardeners, to help people in urban areas combat food insecurity and access healthier food options.
“I’m passionate about engineering technology, business and law,” she said. “I also was involved in agriculture through my local community garden and then later my foundation, Volunteer Community Gardeners. My major also focuses on sustainability and combating climate change while understanding it and seeing where it’s going. The biorenewable systems major was a perfect fit for all my interests.”
On campus, Holston Smith works as a program assistant for the Office of Educational Equity. She supports first-year scholars in the Bunton-Waller, Lenfest, Maguire, and Milton Hershey scholarship programs. Additionally, she is one of nine women chosen to participate in the 2023 Miss Black Penn State pageant in April.
“Penn State has everything I need,” she said. “There’s been support whenever I needed it through campus ministries such as the Penn State Light Fellowship or on-campus tutoring. I’ve also found communities built around my areas of interest and can engage with other like-minded people.”
Looking ahead, Holston Smith said she is interested in sustainability consulting as a career.
“I want to work with companies to help them better use their resources and be more environmentally conscious,” she said.
After completing her undergraduate degree, Holston Smith plans to continue her studies at Penn State through the biorenewable systems graduate program with a dual title in international agriculture and development.
“I would like to work in Nigeria to help with agriculture there, specifically focusing on agriculture heritage sites,” she said.
This summer, Holston Smith will work at Ecolab, a global leader in water hygiene and infection prevention in the food, water, beverage and pharmaceutical sectors. She hopes to continue with the company in some capacity after graduation.
Source : https://www.psu.edu/
Top 5 Ag Universities for Ag MBA in the US
30 June 2023 - If you're looking to advance your career in the field of...
Cheapest Agriculture Universities in Canada
29 June 2023 - Affordable Options for Agricultural Studies When it comes to...
Top Five Agri Career Mistakes
25 June 2023 - Agriculture is an industry that offers numerous opportunities for...