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California Agricultural Technology Institute

Research partnerships

Research partnerships help lead student to Atlanta conference

A Fresno State student studying to be an agricultural plant health specialist has enhanced her network of potential business/professional contacts this spring through participation in an annual conference aiming to aid underrepresented ethnic groups in agricultural sciences.

Sara Alatorre

Sara Alatorre, a senior majoring in plant science, attended the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) 27 th Annual Career Fair and Training Conference in Atlanta, Georgia in March.

Fresno State sponsored Sara through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture s Hispanic serving institution (HSI) program. Student selection is based on several factors, including student academic achievements and participation in extra-curricular activities.

Sara s academic work has included participation in two research projects testing new methods of weed control on blackberries and tomatoes. She also is working with the Morning Star Co. investigating nutrient management in processing tomatoes. Her goal is to earn a California Pest Control Advisor (PCA) license and Certified Crop advisor (CCA) certification.

More than 500 high school and college students, along with some established professionals, attended the three-day MANRRS conference which offered workshops and seminars addressing key issues that young people, especially minorities, face when stepping into professional levels of agriculture, natural resources and related fields.

I learned the importance of networking and presenting yourself as a professional, which I think most students lack once they graduate from college, Sara said. The conference educated me on opportunities that I may have otherwise not considered. Graduate schools and numerous companies with internships attended. At the career fair many agencies and companies were hiring on the spot.

MANRRS sponsors leadership development activities, educational opportunities, job readiness training, and internship and career placement for its members.

The nonprofit organization operates with support from a number of major U.S. companies and foundations.

Sara said she hopes more Fresno State students will apply to attend next year s conference to be held in Sacramento, California.

One great thing about the conference was meeting students from across the country and world. This organization can encourage our students to pursue a degree beyond a bachelor s, she said.

As an addendum to the event, many of the attendees took and extra day to participate in a service project in the Atlanta area preparing community gardens for planting fruits and vegetables in support of a local food bank.

For more information about MANRRS, visit the website at or contact plant science Professor Sharon Benes at