MANRRS-Illinois Chapter: A year of leadership and service

MANRRS-Illinois Chapter: A year of leadership and service

Dec 19
Jesse Thompson, Assistant Dean, Academic Programs

One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is serving as advisor to the student members of the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences Chapter (MANRRS-Illinois) and witnessing their leadership activities and commitment to service.

At the 2012 National Conference in Atlanta, Ga., 12 members competed in both undergraduate and graduate research competitions, with two members winning national awards.  In addition, three members assumed national leadership roles. These members include Derrick Rhodes, an Agricultural Education graduate from Chicago and current graduate student and teacher. He was elected the 2012-2013 Region V Graduate Student Vice-President. Chicago native Naomi Harper, a Human Nutrition major, was elected the 2012-2013 National Parliamentarian. Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences graduate student James Totton of Greensboro, N.C., was named the 2012-2013 Region II Graduate Student Vice-President.

In October, MANRRS-Illinois served as the host for 2012 MANRRS Region V Leadership Development Conference. More than 200 members from 14 universities travelled to the Urbana-Champaign campus. With the theme being diversity in the workplace, professionals from companies and organizations such as Dow Agro Sciences, Monsanto, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, John Deere, MSU Regional Food Systems, and USDA Fish and Wildlife, shared their perspectives about building an inclusive workforce that values differences. The event keynote speaker, Ms. Karen Washington, the president of the New York City Coalition for Community Gardening, gave an inspiring address that challenged conference participants as scholars and future leaders to play a national role in helping to encourage healthier and greener communities in our urban cities.

MANRRS-Illinois members contributed to the welfare of the local community. Last spring, the ladies of the chapter participated in the Women Changing the Face of Agriculture Conference.  This event provided an opportunity for more than 400 young women to learn more about the contributions made by women in agriculture and the significant future roles available in agriculture. In the fall, our members joined ACES in promoting Inclusive Illinois Day, a campus-wide diversity event. Members were stationed at the Inclusive Illinois Day south quad tent, were they encouraged fellow ACES students, faculty, and staff to demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusiveness by signing the Inclusive Illinois pledge statement.

The chapter also teamed up with other campus organizations to provide service to the campus and local Champaign-Urbana community. Members volunteered with I-help, a campus effort to promote community service around the Champaign and Urbana area; spent a day working alongside with social service organizations such as Reading Across America; and volunteered at a local community garden in the Champaign area. For the Christmas holiday, members have agreed to be bell ringers with the Salvation Army.

We’ve had a busy year in MANRRS-Illinois, and are looking forward to a great 2013.