USDA 1890 Program Connects WVSU Students to Career Opportunities

3/29/2017
Contact: Kimberly Osborne
(304) 766-3363
kosborne@wvstateu.edu
 
March 29, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
 
USDA 1890 Program Connects WVSU Students to Career Opportunities
 
INSTITUTE, W.Va. - West Virginia State University (WVSU) students have a new avenue to seek federal programs and career opportunities thanks to the United States Department of Agriculture - Office of Advocacy and Outreach (USDA-OAO). Through the USDA-OAO 1890 Program, a USDA 1890 Program Liaison has been placed on the University’s Institute campus.

“Essentially, my role is to share expertise in areas such as agriculture, limited resource and rural development program outreach; increase WVSU’s involvement in the delivery of USDA programs through grant opportunities; and attract students towards agricultural and related career fields,” said Liaison Officer George Montgomery, who joined the University last summer, marking the first time in nearly a decade that WVSU had a liaison.

The USDA-OAO 1890 Program has assigned a USDA 1890 Program Liaison at each of the 1890 Land-Grant Universities for the purpose of maintaining an established partnership between the USDA and 1890 Land-Grant Universities that are committed to research and technology development being delivered to the public through various extension programs. WVSU is one of 19 such universities in the nation.

“I’ve been building relationships with administrators and department heads, learning the campus and community culture, and tweaking my tactics to meet student needs,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery has broadened his recruiting efforts beyond agriculture to include such areas as science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as business, while seeking out collaborative opportunities with the 4-H and agriculture divisions of WVSU Extension Service. To reach students, he has become a frequent presence in the University’s student union and cafeteria, armed with program information.

“It’s that personal touch that can really reach students,” he said.

A Mississippi native, Montgomery attended Alcorn State University, an 1890 Land-Grant University, where he was guided by a USDA 1890 Program Liaison. While in college, the relationship established with the liaison resulted in Montgomery gaining an internship with USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) in Minnesota.

“Through that experience, I learned how to become a stronger professional,” he said.

The opportunity later resulted in Montgomery receiving a full-time career position with the USDA-NRCS at the completion of his master’s degree program at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville. Having gained multiple years of experience at various locations in Minnesota, Montgomery returned to Mississippi to work for the USDA-Risk Management Agency. Then the position at WVSU became available.

“I applied for the position because I was at a point in my career where I desired to give back,” he said. “When I received the tentative offer via phone, I accepted it on blind faith.”

Montgomery said he left his job in Mississippi on a Thursday, arrived in West Virginia on Friday, looked at an apartment and signed a lease. Prior to this time, he had not been to West Virginia - a whirlwind decision that brought him full circle.

“At age 19, I received an internship offer from the USDA-NRCS in Minnesota. I’d never been there before and had never even flown on a plane,” he said. “However, I accepted the offer, flew in, was taken to a small town named St. James and moved into an apartment. Now, many years later, I’m essentially doing the same thing.”

So far, the decision has proven to be a good one. One of his recent successes involves WVSU student Anna Walker who, thanks to Montgomery’s guidance, became one of six students in the nation to receive the John Deere Scholarship.

“Mr. Montgomery cleared time to speak with me and took my desire to apply seriously,” Walker said. “No one in my life had ever taken the time to actually care about my success before. His belief in me actually made me believe in myself.”

It’s that kind of rapport that Montgomery was hoping to develop with students at WVSU, enabling him to achieve his personal goal of giving back.

“I want to help students,” he said, “and help professionally develop people the same way somebody helped me.”

To learn more about Montgomery’s work and the USDA-OAO 1890 Program, contact him at george.montgomery@wvstateu.edu.

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West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multiā€generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
 
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