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CASNR senior Maria Mejia featured on national ‘Latinos in Agriculture’ website

CASNR senior Maria Mejia featured on national ‘Latinos in Agriculture’ website

Texas Tech University standout student Maria Mejia is featured this week in the latest edition of the ‘Latinos in Agriculture’ website. Masi, as she’s known to her friends, is currently a senior majoring in environmental conservation of natural resources.

Recently, Mejia was awarded a scholarship from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, in addition to the 2012 Ray T. Margo Scholarship for Range Management. She built a relationship with Texas Parks and Wildlife when she served as an intern last summer on the Chaparral Wildlife Management Area. The area encompasses 15,200 acres of South Texas brush country in La Salle and Dimmit Counties approximately 100 miles southwest of San Antonio.

“As a child, I remember having an early fascination with insects, animals and plants,” she said. “This fascination led to my passion of natural resources.”

In addition to her natural resources interests, the Laredo native is pursuing a minor in agricultural leadership in Tech’s Department of Agricultural Education & Communications. Here on the Texas High Plains, she’s an active member of the Collegiate 4-H, Agri-Techsan, Range, Fish, and Wildlife Club, as well as the Society for Conservation Biology were she’s served as president.

Growing up, Mejia was always fascinated by the hunting stories her great-grandfather told. When she joined the Texas Youth Hunting Program and was able to go on her very first hunt on the King Ranch, her guide took the time to explain all the different anatomical parts of her first buck. Soon, Mejia’s love for the science of wildlife grew and she spent every summer with the Texas Brigades, an organization teaching high school students to become ambassadors for conservation.

According to program officials, the “Latinos in Agriculture” organization shares and implements recruiting and outreach strategies with interested individuals to increase the Latino/Hispanic student educational pipeline into agriculture and related fields. One of the primary goals is to increase the pool of Latino talent, as we well as applicants in the future for the agricultural industry, government and academia.

For years, government and higher education groups have been working at trying to interest minorities into agriculture but with limited success, the group’s leaders note. Some agricultural related companies have been working hard to find a diverse and qualified applicant pool as well, but the problem lies in that there are very few Hispanics enrolling in agricultural related degrees in colleges in the United States. In 2008, only 11,353 or 4.5 percent of the 251,422 college students enrolled in an agricultural or related degree program were Hispanic/Latino.

Written by Norman Martin

CONTACT: Mark Wallace, Chairman, Department of Natural Resources Management, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-1983, mark.wallace@ttu.edu

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