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University of Kentucky alum pays it forward with Junior MANRRS

University of Kentucky alum pays it forward with Junior MANRRS

University of Kentucky alum pays it forward with Junior MANRRS

Caitlyn McFadden is paving the way for more students to explore careers at John Deere through MANRRS, minorities in agriculture, natural resources and related sciences, a program that has given so much to her starting in high school.


Caitlyn McFadden, a recent University of Kentucky Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment graduate with a bachelor's degree in career and technical education in the UK Department of Community and Leadership Development, is a product line information specialist at John Deere.

Caitlyn McFadden pictured standing in front of John Deere machinery. Photo provided by Caitlyn McFadden
Caitlyn McFadden pictured standing in front of John Deere machinery. Photo provided by Caitlyn McFadden

Since high school, McFadden has been involved in the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) program, which encourages and empowers minorities to pursue degrees in agriculture and related fields. MANRRS gave her the tools to be successful and help others.  

While attending the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, McFadden joined the Junior MANRRS chapter. The program aims to inspire minorities in grades 7-12 to attend college and pursue agriculture, natural resources and environmental-related sciences degrees through mentorship, leadership and scholarships. As graduation approached, her academic advisor introduced her to the UK MANRRS chapter and University of Kentucky agricultural programs. In 2017, McFadden became a Kentucky wildcat.  

“Coming to UK felt right, since I already had a connection through my academic advisor,” McFadden said. “The UK MANRRS chapter seemed incredibly involved inside and outside of the classroom. Additionally, Martin-Gatton CAFE offered a degree program, advancing my agricultural industrial education passion, service and teaching.”  

McFadden remained involved in UK MANRRS, serving numerous leadership roles on the executive board, attending national and regional career fairs and training conferences, and taking advantage of networking opportunities. Those openings gave McFadden valuable internship opportunities at Monsanto, Bayer Crop Science and Land O’Lakes.  

“UK MANRRS gave me professional opportunities to connect and network, which opened more doors for me to gain valuable experience,” McFadden said. “In addition, UK MANRRS gave me confidence, especially with public speaking and delivering elevator pitches in professional settings.”  

Those intangibles paid off. While attending a MANRRS conference, McFadden connected with Deere representatives. In June of 2023, Deere hired McFadden to support and manage their projects associated with small ag and turf products. McFadden also serves on Deere’s MANRRS scholarship committee, helping the next generation with professional and educational opportunities.  

“MANRRS students are talented. It’s rewarding to help recruit these undergraduate students for internships, funding and full-time employment opportunities at Deere,” McFadden said. “They remind me of myself at their age, and the steps it takes, which is not easy. In MANRRS, people mentored and invested in me. Now, I can share my story and help advocate.”  

McFadden fondly reflects on UK and Martin-Gatton CAFE, which equipped her with the tools for success in her new role at Deere.  

“UK introduced me to so much. I wasn’t scared or shy to walk into a new professional setting,” McFadden said. “My major significantly enhanced my planning skills and enabled me to manage multiple projects simultaneously. My education equipped me with the essential knowledge and skills to thrive as a successful employee.” 

McFadden added that mentorship was pivotal in shaping her professional development, and still significantly contributes to her growth and achievements.

In 2019, McFadden was honored with the Lyman T. Johnson Torch Bearer award, given to UK African American students who go above and beyond with their academic achievement, positively impacting the lives of others. She was also recognized in the 40 under 40: The Rising Stars in NYC Food Policy in 2023. 

Learn more about the University of Kentucky MANRRS program at  

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The Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment is an Equal Opportunity Organization with respect to education and employment and authorization to provide research, education information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, physical or mental disability or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.


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