COLLEGE STATION – Over the years, Joyce Ramirez of Mission watched her father start his own hay baling business that became successful enough to support the family.
The experience encouraged her to study agriculture at Texas A&M University in College Station so she could one day return to South Texas and help others get started too, she said.
The sophomore agriculture business major at Texas A&M’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences recently submitted a one-page essay to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Titled “Agriculture as a Career,” her entry led to her selection as one of 24 university students nationally to attend USDA’s 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum.
The forum, “Moving Agriculture Forward,” is USDA’s largest annual event and was held Feb. 23-24 in Arlington, Va., at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel.
“I feel so privileged to be one of only two sophomores selected,” Ramirez said. “All the others are juniors and seniors. And we’ve learned so much about the wide range of work the USDA does all over the world.”
Dr. Alan Sams, executive associate dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M, said Ramirez is very deserving of the recognition.
“Joyce will represent us well at the national level to learn about and help develop ways to infuse the strength of diverse perspectives into our programs,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for her to grow professionally as well as to bring back some valuable insight to our college.”
While she hasn’t yet decided whether to pursue an advanced degree in agriculture or law after attaining her bachelor’s degree, Ramirez said agriculture will always be a part of her life.
“What I love about agriculture is that anyone can start their own business and be successful,” she said. “With so many people in need of a job, I decided I wanted to learn all I could about agriculture to help others become self-sufficient.”
Ramirez is the daughter of Arturo and Sylvia Ramirez of Mission. She graduated from Juarez Lincoln High School in La Joya where she was a member of FFA.
“FFA was so helpful to me as I was growing up,” she said. “It helped broaden my horizons, not just in preparing for various livestock shows, but in so many personal ways. And now after having attended this forum, it is obvious that with globalization and technology, being successful in agriculture requires being open-minded, informed and flexible.”
While in Washington, D.C., Ramirez and others in the group toured various entities of the USDA, including the facilities of Natural Resources Conservation Service, Economic Research Service and the Agricultural Resource Service.
“I’m just so impressed by the work the USDA does,” she said. “Among the many things they do, they help keep our nation’s agriculture viable, facilitate food imports and exports and set policies that affect so many people worldwide.”
The diversity program participants include students from land-grant, Hispanic-serving institutions and the American Association of State Colleges of Agriculture and Renewable Resources Institutions.