CAES Alum Named Inaugural 1890 Universities Foundation Intern

07/14/2022 Alumni, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

Taylor Mitchell, a 2022 graduate of the environmental studies program in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, will spend the summer as the inaugural 1890 Universities Foundation intern on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee. 

While on Capitol Hill, Mitchell will get a first-hand look at policymaking and the legislative process as it affects agriculture, including production and commodity prices, farm credit and farm security, rural electrification and soil conservation. She will also participate in research and learn from the committee’s chair, Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.). 

For Mitchell, this experience is balancing the primarily science-based work she did as a student at N.C. A&T.

“N.C. A&T is a STEM school, so we were more focused on research and the science behind it. But this committee is working with the legislation that allows that work to happen,” she said. “I’m learning that you can have science and research involved in policy. 

“Sitting in when the representatives are in session, and discussing the different topics that come through our office, I can see how important this work is. Recently, we had a discussion about how cryptocurrency could affect agriculture. Policies that can affect Black farmers when they come to the U.S. Department of Agriculture all run through this committee. I’m so excited to be a part of it.” 

Mitchell is the inaugural 1890s Universities Foundation intern, a new program that seeks to connect students from universities within the 1890 land-grant system with exposure to public policymaking. 

“It’s an invaluable way for students to gain an understanding of Congress and its processes,” said Antonio McLaren, Ed.D., vice president for program innovation and implementation at the 1890s Universities Foundation, a nonprofit organization which supports education, academics and outreach across 19 1890 land-grant universities. 

“It’s critical that diverse voices are present in the policy area. These internships could lead to employment opportunities with a range of organizations and federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture; opportunities to work in congressional staff positions; for agri-business corporations; or in other important capacities,” he said. 

On campus, Mitchell was a Student Government Association senator; president of the Earth and Environmental Science Club; and a member of the CAES Dean’s Student Cabinet. She studied with Godfey Uzochukwu, Ph.D. in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Design, learning about both sustainability and responsibility. 

Next fall, she’ll head to Ann Arbor, Michigan to pursue a master’s degree in sustainable systems at the University of Michigan, with the ultimate goal of earning her Ph.D. Her studies have focused on freshwater management, conservation and minority agriculture rights. Eventually, she would like to conduct global research on wetland conservation and securing fresh water for impoverished communities. 

However, continuing to pursue policymaking is now part of the plan, Mitchell said.  

“A&T has always been about preparing you for every kind of situation, and I definitely feel prepared just knowing about agriculture thanks to the curriculum in the CAES,” she said. “I wouldn’t have been as confident in what I’m doing now if I hadn’t started there.”  

Media Contact Information: jmhowse@ncat.edu

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