USDA selects Central Arizona College’s Crystal McKenna for fellowship program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently selected Dr. Crystal McKenna, professor of biology at Central Arizona College, to participate in its E. Kika De La Garza Fellowship Program.

Crystal McKenna. (Submitted Photo)

The program offers faculty and staff from Hispanic-Serving Institutions the opportunity to work collaboratively with the USDA to gain insight and understanding of the federal government, according to a press release.

Through the fellowship, participants learn about opportunities that are available with USDA and other Federal Agencies for their respective institutions and their students.

The USDA fellows, who are highly accomplished staff and faculty members at HSIs from across the nation, were selected based on the compatibility of their research interests with USDA mission areas, as well as the value their experiences will add to their institutions’ educational capacities during the fellowship, a release states.

Ms. McKenna said the fellowship will make her more effective in motivating students to achieve their career goals and encourage high expectations around readiness, achievement, and success.

“Hispanic students at CAC and from Pinal and Maricopa counties, as well as statewide will reap the benefits of this fellowship as we strengthen the linkages between secondary and post-secondary education, USDA Agencies and the rural agricultural workforce in Arizona,” she said in a prepared statement.

“It is an honor to be selected and a privilege to represent Central Arizona College and Pinal County.”

Following the two-week fellowship in Washington, D.C., Ms. McKenna will then return to CAC and resume her duties as Grant Coordinator for Project Puente, a USDA/NIFA grant that CAC received in 2015.

Ms. McKenna said she “looks forward to sharing her experiences and networking information with colleagues and students upon her return.”

The fellowship is named after Eligio “Kika” de la Garza II, who served as the U.S. Congressman for Texas’ 15th district from 1965-97.

He served as chairman of the Congressional Agriculture Committee from 1981 to 1994 and played a large role in overhauling the agricultural lending system, implementing federal farm crop insurance and commodity futures reform, reorganizing the USDA, and providing numerous aid packages for American and international agriculture.

He also co-founded the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Mr. De la Garza died in March 2017.

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