Auburn University launches agriculture leadership program for high school students

AUBURN – Auburn University has launched MATRIX for the Future: Premier Agriscience Education Academy in response to a growing shortage of secondary and postsecondary agricultural educators and declining enrollment numbers in agriculture at Auburn and at land-grant colleges nationwide.

The two-year project, funded by a $100, 000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, was developed by Don Mulvaney, an Auburn University College of Agriculture professor, animal scientist and leadership coordinator for the College of Agriculture; and Brian Parr, an assistant professor in the College of Education and agriscience education specialist. Out of a shared concern for the future of agriculture in the United States, Mulvaney and Parr launched the program to prepare outstanding high school students enrolled in agricultural classes and involved in agricultural organizations to be the next generation of leaders in agricultural production, education, science and agribusiness.

“Our focus is to help high school students in ag-related classes and groups build their leadership skills and also to encourage them to pursue college degrees and leadership positions in agriculture to ensure the future of American agriculture,” Mulvaney said.

For this project, Mulvaney and Parr have partnered with the Collegiate Future Farmers of America chapter at Auburn to hold leadership workshops for FFA chapters throughout the state. Activities during the day-long workshops are designed to help participants recognize and develop their leadership potential. The workshops will continue through February.

In June 2010, a select group of rising high school juniors and seniors will attend an Agricultural Leadership Education Academy. The five-day academy will offer advanced leadership instruction, tours of research facilities and opportunities for networking with faculty and current students as well as training in areas such as interviewing for jobs and preparing for college entrance exams.

For more information about the leadership workshops and the academy, go to and click on Future Student Events, or contact Don Mulvaney at (334) 844-3200.

(Contributed by Jamie Creamer.)

Contact: Jamie Creamer, (334) 844-2783 (, or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (