Southeast Junior Morgan Riley Named Golden Opportunity Scholar

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Sept. 20, 2013 – Southeast Missouri State University junior Morgan Riley of Bernie, Mo., has been named a Golden Opportunity Scholar and will attend a mentoring conference through the Golden Opportunity Scholars Institute Nov. 3-6 in Tampa, Fla. “I was very excited when I found out that I had been chosen as a Golden Opportunity Scholar. I knew that usually they chose juniors and seniors and I had applied as a sophomore, which was even more exciting,” Riley said.

The program is co-sponsored by the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America and the Soil Science Society of America, matches undergraduates with scientist-mentors during the meetings. Based on her career aspirations, Riley will be matched with a mentor when she attends the conference. The mentee-mentorship program will continue for a year.

The program encourages talented students to study agronomy, crop and soil sciences while cultivating networks to develop the necessary workforce to sustain the profession. Recipients are chosen based on academic achievements and interests. The mentors also can help with graduate school searches and applications, scholarship opportunities and career searches. Riley, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Science with a major in plant and soil science, said she plans to be a crop consultant for her hometown and the surrounding area. She says she is hoping she will be matched with a mentor in a similar career who can offer her advice and networking opportunities.

Riley first learned about the program from her advisor, Dr. Indi Braden, a professor in the Department of Agriculture.

“As her advisor, knowing that she was a plant soil science student looking for graduate school options and that her academics would be competitive, I recommended for her to apply,” Braden said.

After investigating the program and discussing it with her professor, Riley applied last spring. She learned in late summer she had been named a Golden Opportunity Scholar.

Riley said she looks forward to engaging with her mentor, listening to presentations from high-profile scientists, and attending student programs at the conference. She also hopes to learn more about graduate programs, scholarships and job opportunities. She also is eager to increase her exposure to many disciplines in agronomy, the study of producing plants for food, fiber, reclamation and fuel, as well as in crops, soils and environmental sciences, she said.

“Agriculture is an exciting field,” Riley said. “The agriculture department is like a huge family, and the faculty is amazing. I never know what to expect when I head to a class. One day we are in the classroom taking notes. The next day we are out at the Barton Agriculture Research Center walking through a corn field, and the next we have a guest speaker. Being in agriculture, I won’t have problems finding a job when I graduate or in the future. Everyone has to eat, so there will always be agriculture jobs. Also, with an agriculture degree, there are so many possibilities for job opportunities, so I won’t be limited to just one thing.”

Riley said she will receive financial aid from the three societies for the costs associated with the trip, including transportation and lodging.