James Harrison Hill, Sr. Young Scholar Enhancement Grant Program

Creating a pipeline for tomorrow's leaders in sustainable agriculture

Providing for tomorrow's leaders in sustainable agriculture is at an inflection point. There is a growing public interest in sustainable agriculture and at the same time there is a paucity of collegiate students engaged in sustainable agriculture programs. It is well documented that professional early engagement of students influences their college education and career choices. Therefore, the Southern SARE program is offering grants as an enhancement of Research and Education projects targeted at attracting freshman and sophomore undergraduate and/or pre-collegiate high school students to pursue college degrees emphasizing sustainable agriculture.

Many of the SARE funded projects are ideally suited for student internship mentoring opportunities. The James Harrison Hill, Sr. Young Scholar Enhancement (YES) Grant is designed to provide funds to an open Research and Education project to hire a high school or college student for the summer to participate in a research program in sustainable agriculture. The program emphasizes, but is not limited to, attracting socially disadvantaged minorities who are currently underrepresented in sustainable agriculture careers and professions.

These grants are not open to the public. They are only available for recipients of open Research and Education Grants who are interested providing a young scholar the opportunity to conduct sustainable agriculture research.

The Southern Region includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A James Harrison Hill, Sr. Young Scholar Enhancement project includes an experiential learning component that emphasizes either research and/or Extension and immerses the Young Scholar in STEM and social sciences activities. It is intended to heighten the Young Scholars' interest in these fields of study related to sustainable agriculture. YES project proposals can vary widely in discipline exposure, laboratory or field experiences, student acceptance standards, expected student outcomes and internship duration. Each student prepares a poster presentation detailing their research experience.

As of 2021, 35 high school or undergraduate college students have participated in the James Harrison Hill, Sr. Young Scholar Enhancement Grant program. The award has totaled $137,501. Several students have gone on to continue their research careers, winning awards and poster competitions for their efforts at conferences across the country.