April 7, 2000 | By: Haven Miller

For Je'Retta Manson, a University of Kentucky senior majoring in food science, a recent Lexington conference offered the perfect opportunity for meeting people who study and work in agriculture. It was the national conference for Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences, or MANRRS, and it brought together college students and employers from nearly 40 states.

"The networking was very valuable," said Manson. "There were many companies here ready to provide internships and even jobs for students who have graduated, and it was also a chance to meet other students from different schools who are in the same field."

The conference, which was co-hosted by the University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University, attracted more than 90 exhibitors representing both government and non-government agencies and businesses. More than 900 participants representing 67 MANRRS chapters nationwide attended the three-day event, which featured campus tours, guest speakers, a career fair, an awards banquet, and workshops on such topics as multi-culturalism, minority participation, water quality, and women in agriculture.

"What impressed me about the conference was its diversity," said Quinten Tyler, a UK sophomore majoring in agricultural economics. "I didn't know there were this many minority students involved in agriculture, and this many different aspects to the industry."

Conference leaders said the event helped bring awareness to the need for minorities in agriculture, and also helped bring recognition to Kentucky.

"With our Kentucky chapters hosting this MANRRS conference I think we demonstrated that we're not just talk – we can also walk the walk," said Dr. Zelia Holloway, minority recruitment coordinator for the UK College of Agriculture. "Our UK chapter was named Outstanding New Chapter, and our students are extremely proud they helped host this important national event."

"Agriculture is a very vibrant area for careers," said Dr. Harold Benson, director of Cooperative Extension at Kentucky State University. "For minority groups, the emphasis used to be on production agriculture, but now with new technology and the concern for food safety and feeding our growing population, it's an industry that is providing new opportunities. Our message for our students is that agriculture welcomes them."


Dr. Zelia Holloway 859-257-9241