The grant from the USDA helps the Financial Intelligence Unit advance its efforts to recruit, nurture, and prepare underrepresented students for employment and leadership opportunities in the agriculture industry.
The university will use the $975,314 scholarship to advance its Expanded Agricultural Science Education (BASE) program for Hispanic students through the Florida, Texas, and New Mexico federation.
The union allows underrepresented students at three universities in South Florida, Texas, and New Mexico to develop scientific skills in the biological sciences, agriculture, and natural resources, find employment with the Department of Agriculture or related agencies, or advance to higher education.
The FIU program has offered undergraduate scholarships, travel grants, conferences, internships, and study abroad programs to more than 500 undergraduate and graduate students.
“We are proud of the students we have been able to help grow careers in agriculture and related fields over the years,” said Professor of Agroecology in the Financial Intelligence Unit and director of this new scholarship, Krishnaswamy Jayachandran. “They have been able to conduct cutting edge research in biofertilizers, bioenergy and sustainable production practices.”
The university has also developed a nationally acclaimed outreach program for veterans, novice farmers, and the socially disadvantaged, and has helped increase their access to grants and loans from the Department of Agriculture. The Financial Intelligence Unit has helped more than 200 farmers in South Florida with technical training and advice on agricultural loans and grants from the Department of Agriculture, according to FIU Professor of Agricultural Ecology Mahadev Bhatt of the Department of Earth and Environment at the College of Arts, Sciences and Education.
The BASE Scholarship Program was part of a broader $12 million investment in Hispanic higher education institutions to enhance their ability to attract, retain, and graduate underrepresented students who pursue careers in agriculture, natural resources, and the humanities. The Department of Agriculture awarded this funding through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Hispanic Scholarship Program, which enhances student learning experiences and opportunities across the agriculture sector.
“We recognize and appreciate the multifaceted contributions of the institutions serving Hispanics in our country, which educate more than 3.2 million students annually across the country,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release. “The USDA has the great privilege of partnering with Hispanics, and minority-serving organizations as a whole, to advance scientific research, develop future agricultural leaders and, hopefully, grow the next generation of USDA employees.”
The head of the Financial Intelligence Unit, Mark B. Rosenberg, is among a select group of leaders invited to actually meet with Secretary Vilsack in October.
“As an organization serving Hispanics, FIU is a leader in ensuring equitable access to highly rewarding career and leadership opportunities in the agriculture industry and in research that helps ensure that one of Florida’s largest industries continues to thrive in an era of persistent climate change,” Bhatt said.