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29th Annual MANRRS National Conference

Posted: May 5, 2014

Six students from the college of Ag went to Birmingham, Al for the 29th annual MANRRS National Conference. The trip was rewarding academically and professionally and we look forward to bringing our experiences back to the college.

MANRRS Conference Article

On March 27th, students from Penn State’s chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) set off for Birmingham, Alabama, for its 29th Annual Career and Training Conference. For the next few days, they participated in oral and poster research presentation competitions, attended a career fair where they had the opportunity to interact with employers and representatives from graduate and veterinary schools, and met students from all around the country.

Friday consisted of numerous activities and professional development sessions, in addition to a multitude of varied competitions. The 2013-2014 Penn State chapter Secretary, Chanell Dunham, a senior majoring in Animal Sciences, submitted a photo which expressed “Changing the Face of Agriculture While Linking Hands Around the World” as her competition submission. Both Vice President Denzel Middleton, a senior majoring in Biobehavioral Health, and Jonathan Dumas, a Master’s student in Agricultural and Extension Education and International Agriculture and Development, presented their research in the poster session.

Additionally, President Patrick Thomas, a senior majoring in Agricultural Sciences, presented his research orally and placed second in the Research Discussion competition. He explained, “winning was a great culmination of the year. The competition was a great place to further discuss research and has opened my eyes to parts of the STEM and social sciences that I wasn’t aware of before.”

Many representatives from graduate schools and industry leaders were also on-site to provide opportunities for students network with them. The opportunities to network were especially invaluable to Middleton, who said, “I felt that I had walked away with an increased network circuit and gained more knowledge in the areas of industry and government work. Prior to the conference, my goals were continuing my education and focusing on graduate school recruitment and applications. The conference gave me the opportunity to meet with various research companies and research sectors of the government to learn about those opportunities.”

On Saturday, students attended a wide array of workshops, in which they were able to explore topics within and outside of their field of study. Current Programming Chair, Jessica Linder, a sophomore majoring in Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, expressed, “I was so blessed to attend the National Conference this year. This was my first time attending, and as the only participant returning next year, I am excited to bring back my experiences to the organization and encourage members to go next year. One of my favorite parts was the workshops, where I was not only able to delve more into the veterinary field, but I was also able to learn more about the organizational culture of one of my favorite corporations, Disney.”

Throughout the weekend, there were also a series of student mixers, networking events, and speakers. The weekend ended with a banquet on Saturday night, where awards were presented and new national officers were announced. Even after attending a multitude of previous conferences, the attendees still learned a lot and gained a lot from the professional development opportunities. Chanell Dunham remarked that, “being that this was my last conference, I will definitely take with me the relationships and connections I have made and the many ways I have learned, to enhance my future professional development. Being around and learning from so many professionals has allowed me to put my professionalism to use. Also, being around so many other students with the same pathways and career interests, I will always remember that I can strive for greatness and do anything I put my mind to. And that’s a great feeling.”