The initiative is a program of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) that matches undergraduates with scientist-mentors during their annual meetings.
Smothers, a junior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in agribusiness, plant and soil science option, is participating in this program that is designed to strengthen agronomy, crops and soil/environmental science professions by encouraging students to enroll in related academic programs and become the next generation of leaders in these professions.
“This program allows me to have a personal mentor to assist me in finding which graduate degree programs best fit my goals, interests and abilities. I will also get to network with leaders in the professions. I also have the benefit of learning about various agronomy and science organizations and what they may have to offer,” Smothers said.
Only 20 applicants were selected for this program. Meetings for the program were held in Phoenix, Arizona, on Nov. 4-9.
Only one other Southeast student, in 2013, was selected for this program.
“The candidate selection for this program is competitive,” said Dr. Indi Braden, professor of sustainability. “Many students are nominated from larger land grant universities. It is an honor to be among the few regional schools represented in the selected scholars.”
Smothers will be required to attend several sessions and work with a team of other scholars to lead discussions on important topics in agriculture. She will also interact with other scholars, mentors, and leaders of the ASA, CSSA, and SSSA.
“It will also provide Erin with a ‘foot in the door’ for being recognized by potential employers and/or graduate programs,” said Braden. “Many employers will use the list of Golden Opportunity Scholars as a recruiting effort to seek out the best of the best.”
Smothers said she hopes to attain a better understanding of the path she takes in the future with graduate programs and her career. “I also hope to learn which goals I need to set and how to achieve them.”
“I am very excited that Erin was selected for this program,” Braden said. “I am proud of her as a student and a young professional in agriculture. She will represent the agriculture department and Southeast Missouri State University with class.”
“Erin is a very determined and hard-working student. Hopefully, the Golden Opportunity Scholars Program will help promote her into her career goals,” Braden said.