February 06, 2012

Student is one of 24 picked to attend USDA forum

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A student studying nutrition at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will participate in a national diversity forum on the future of agriculture.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has named Danielle Farley to its 2012 Agriculture Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program.  Farley, a senior in human nutrition and dietetics in the College of Agricultural Sciences, is one of just 24 students selected by the USDA nationwide to attend the forum titled “Moving Agriculture Forward.”  The event is set for Feb. 23-24 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va.

Farley, the daughter of Jim and Francie Farley, formerly of Rockford and now Omaha, Neb., said she was thrilled to receive the honor, which stemmed from an essay she wrote titled “Agriculture as a Career.”

“I put my heart into writing my essay, and my win really made me feel that hard work pays off,” Farley said.  “While I was waiting to hear back from the USDA, I did some further research on this program. I found that I am the second person from the state of Illinois to have won this contest, which made me feel privileged and proud to have had the opportunity to enter this contest.”

Farley’s essay is one of just six such winning essays featured by the USDA on its website.  Her essay is available at http://www.usda.gov/oce/forum/diversity/papers/2012/Farley.pdf.

A graduate of Boylan Catholic High School in Rockford, Farley said her interest in human nutrition and dietetics means she holds a special passion for agriculture.

“I've taken a great interest in agriculture and the relationship people have with their food source,” she said.  “My goal as a future professional in the agriculture industry is to reestablish a cycle within our society that involves the land, the farmer, the consumer and the consumer’s health.”

Farley said she is looking forward to attending the forum and visiting Washington.

“My trip to the capital will allow me to learn about new trends in the industry, and to network with professionals in my area of interest,” she said.  “As a graduating senior, I hope to come home with some options of potential employment that will shape the first steps in my career path.”

Todd Winters, interim dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, said Farley’s education as a future dietitian means she understands the importance of agriculture in the production of safe and nutritious food. 

“The college is very proud of Danielle and our Human Nutrition and Dietetics program in its promotion of the farm-to-plate concept,” Winters said.  “Danielle's essay was chosen from a college competition led by our Department of Agribusiness Economics.  She was the only student chosen in the state of Illinois, and her essay was one of six chosen to be highlighted by the USDA. 

“It's a big honor for Danielle and the University’s College of Agricultural Sciences,” Winters said.

The USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture launched the forum program in 2007 as a way to expose students to a broad range of agriculture disciplines.

Tom Vilsack, U.S. secretary of agriculture, said the forum would celebrate the USDA’s 150th anniversary while giving the student an opportunity to hear former secretaries of agriculture describe their visions for the future of agriculture.

“USDA welcomes the next generation to participate in the forum so they might see opportunities to excel to even greater heights in their careers,” Vilsack said.