Eight students from seven different universities gained unique hands-on experience at NC State this summer as part of the Food Science Education and Extension Summer Scholars Program.
Led by Clint Stevenson of the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences, the program aims to develop the next generation of food science education and extension professionals. It is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA).
“The first year of this program was a big success,” Stevenson said. “Not only did these scholars deliver on their goals for the program, but they had a really well-rounded experience.”
In addition to conducting teaching and training projects, the scholars toured several North Carolina food and beverage facilities (Simply Natural Creamery, Lonerider brewery and the Krispy Kreme headquarters, to name a few), listened to guest speakers from industry and academia and attended the annual meeting of the International Association for Food Protection in Salt Lake City.
At the end of the experience, the students presented posters at NC State’s Undergraduate Research Symposium.
“The scholars created immersive food science lessons that will be useful in both education and training settings,” Stevenson said. “Even better, the projects, combined with the field trips, guest speakers and attendance at the conference seemed to open the students’ eyes to exciting careers in education and extension.”
Stevenson also says that contributions from collaborators were a big part of the success of the program. These include instructional designers Julie Yamamoto and Jessica Smith, faculty members Keith Harris and Ben Chapman — all from the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences — and two colleagues at the University of Maine.
The program — which is entering its second year — is made possible by a grant from USDA-NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Research and Extension Experiences for Undergraduate Program (REEU). According to the USDA announcement, “these hands-on educational experiences offer both research and extension training that will lead to a well-prepared and modern workforce that can fill expected gaps in the country’s food, agriculture and related industries.”