The 35th National MANRRS Conference was held April 6th - 9th and focused on the theme of “reclaiming our time, territory, and triumph” as members from across the country met to network, learn, and explore issues and concerns related to diversity in agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences. Twelve undergraduate students, graduate students, and staff members from the Ohio State University chapter, including ATI, attended this year’s conference. Events included a wide range of panel discussions, research presentations, student competitions, and keynote addresses by prominent leaders from the agricultural and environmental arena. Gary Closs, a PhD candidate in the Department of Food Science and Technology (FST), won 2nd place in the Graduate Oral Research Presentation Competition while Nicole McMullen was recognized as a VIP Scholar by Farm Credit Services. Additionally, a career fair provided students an opportunity to meet with employers, network and engage with other professionals to discuss internship and employment prospects.
Attendees from Ohio State went to as many panels and presentations as fit their schedules and found the information in those sessions to be both encouraging and informative. Those who attended the keynote address by Janie Hipp, a public advocate and food attorney, found her discourse to be very inspirational saying that “her words were powerful and called all listeners to action.” They were also able to learn about new areas in agriculture with additional needs for workers, the effects and struggles that different companies and people have experienced because of COVID, the impact of climate change, cannabis and hemp farming and implications, and attended food science workshops. Students were also able to network with representatives from the Farm Credit Services and formed connections with a host of professionals in the industry. They also found occasions to discuss ideas to get their local chapter back up and running post-COVID and chances to support professional members post-graduation. While many attendees missed the “in-person” interactions from past years, they still found this year’s conference to be an enjoyable and beneficial experience.