NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) is a student organization focused on promoting academic and professional advancement for minorities in agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences at land-grant institutions.
According to Jenice Sabb-Dumas, assistant dean and director of the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) at SEBS, the EOF team began attending the MANRRS annual conference and cluster meetings three years ago.
“Recognizing that EOF students, unless exposed to ag careers, are not familiar with the vast employment potential in agriculture, the SEBS EOF team wanted to expose its students to the possibilities within agriculture.”
“After attending the first meeting, we found the experience to be an excellent opportunity to engage EOF students with peers, faculty, and administrators who were seeking to encourage participation in ag fields of study,” added Sabb-Dumas.
Attending that first MANRRS conference demonstrated the importance and impact the organization could have on EOF students, said Sabb-Dumas. “The experience was validating as students were exposed to individuals with similar backgrounds and ambitions. These individuals shared a vision that made lasting impressions on our students.”
It also helped that during the college and recruitment fair at the SEBS students’ first MANRRS experience two of their EOF students were offered summer internships in Florida and Michigan. The following year, another SEBB EOF student was awarded a scholarship from the Farm Credit.
These successes led the students to become engaged in drafting a constitution for a Cook chapter of MANRRS and petitioning for recognition as a student organization at Rutgers.
“We decided that this was an experience that EOF students needed to have and thus began the task of reestablishing the Rutgers MANRRS chapter. Two years later, SEBS EOF staff and students have brought MANRRS back to Rutgers, recently receiving recognition as a ‘Provisional Student Club,’” said Sabb-Dumas.
“As we continue hosting events this fall and promoting the club, I expect that MANRRS will become a fully recognized club, which will enhance understanding of the land-grant mission of SEBS, support endeavors that promote diversity in agricultural sciences and related fields, and offer opportunities for leadership skills development,” she added.
On September 25 this year, Rutgers MANRRS attended the 2020 Virtual Regional Cluster, its first national conference as a fully recognized chapter and where several competitions are typically hosted. During this conference, SEBS EOF first-year student, Desire Walker (SEBS’24), participated in and won the National MANRRS Interview Contest.
Walker was asked about her experiences and shared the following with SEBS/NJAES Newsroom:
Q: You won the interview contest at a recent MANRRS regional event. What was involved in the contest?
A: The contest involved questions about myself and experiences such as who am I and the hardships that I have faced and how did I overcome them.
Q: How did you become involved in MANRRS and why?
A: I was introduced and given information about MANRRS from my EOF advisors. I decided to join this club because it focus on provide networking and potential job opportunities to unrepresented minorities in the agriculture and related science fields.
Q: Did you always have an interest in agriculture or related fields or was it influenced by your involvement with MANRRS?
A: I have an interest in the Animal Science field and although most first year students may be conflicted or have not declared a major, it is very likely that I will pick and stick with this major throughout college. Now that I am involved with MANRRS, I still have an interest within that field.