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Texas field
Field in Rio Grande Valley, Texas

HLPANR develops Hispanic leaders, seeks solutions

By Kareem El Dahab
Student Writer, College of Liberal and Fine Arts

(Oct. 7, 2005)--The UTSA Culture and Policy Institute's Hispanic Leadership Program in Agriculture and Natural Resources (HLPANR) has received $510,682 for its fourth year of funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

The three-year-old leadership program aims to develop leaders in food and agricultural sciences to work on issues of concern to Hispanic American communities. The program is co-directed by Raymond Garza, UTSA professor of psychology; Ruben Martinez, UTSA professor of public administration; and Manuel Pina,Texas A&M University assistant vice chancellor for agricultural education.

The grant can support as many as 25 research fellows pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees from various disciplines. Students in the program work on research in agriculture and advance knowledge relating to environment, health and community issues.

Professional leadership development activities also are funded to prepare people for research leadership roles relating to Hispanic American issues in food and agricultural sciences. Agricultural and natural resources research involves such issues as water policy, agricultural policy, federal loans, farm insurance, the effects of NAFTA and CAFTA, and developing the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

In August, HLPANR researchers attended the first Hispanic Farmer/Rancher Conference in Las Cruces, N.M., which featured U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns speaking on the proposed federal farm bill which would guide much of the nation's agricultural policy.

HLPANR students attending the conference included Monica Alaniz, Selena Navarro, Javier Campos, Leslie Thayer Coleman, Victor Garza and Josie Vasquez. The U.S. Department of Agriculture sponsored the HLPANR members as well as students from California.

"It was a ground-breaking event," said Navarro. "It was the first time Latino farmers and ranchers had a conference to address their concerns. There is a lot to learn, a lot to do and a plethora of ideas for research. The event was totally aligned to our program."

"The conference was about building bridges," Alaniz said. "Farmers and ranchers were able to communicate directly with the secretary of agriculture. It was great to see Latino farmers and ranchers come together to discuss issues specific to them. I began to see the academic connection to the layman who works in the fields."

For more information, contact Mariano Trujillo, project coordinator, at (210) 458-2657, or visit the HLPANR Web site.

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