Smithfield Foods, Inc. has committed $500,000 to a two-year partnership with Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, a non-profit organization that pursues excellence in leadership, scholarship and service through fostering involvement of membership from diverse backgrounds in the field of agriculture.
The first objective of Smithfield's investment is to create a diverse K-12 student pipeline interested in food, agriculture and natural resource careers. To help this next generation of leaders achieve future success, Smithfield and MANRRS have created the Smithfield Jr. MANRRS Scholars Program to expose minority students to STEM-related disciplines through a series of educational programs and curricula aimed at expanding their agricultural acumen.
"Smithfield Foods is honored to be part of the ongoing effort to engage historically underrepresented students in the future of our industry," says Steve Evans, a director of community development at Smithfield Foods. "By investing in these initiatives, we will provide the agricultural sector with broader perspectives and backgrounds. The innovative programs outlined by MANRRS will assist us in increasing our capacity to attract top-tier talent and continue to feed the world."
In addition, Smithfield's contribution will support Historically Black Colleges and Universities, strengthening student candidates for industry leadership roles. Through the new Smithfield Foods 1890 Leadership program, named after the 1890 Land-Grant Institutions, high school seniors will receive a $5,000 scholarship to attend a HBCU of their choice and participate in their local collegiate MANRRS chapter. The initiative will also include summer stipends for underclass students to take part in research and immersion programs as well as a nationwide eMentoring program.
"This initiative will nurture a generation of diverse agricultural leaders and lay the groundwork for strengthening the relationships between the industry and these institutions," says Ebony Webber, chief operating officer of MANRRS. "We're grateful for our partnership with Smithfield Foods, a leader in its industry who understands the importance of amplifying our students' voices."