They are student leaders and academic scholars who assist with recruitment and on-campus retention efforts at the West Virginia University Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences.

Who are they? They are the student ambassadors, a group of 15 to 20 students who have been chosen by administrators on the basis of their leadership abilities and academic records to represent the college and act as a liaison between the college and prospective students.

The program started three years ago and is modeled after a similar program at Penn State, according to Denny Smith, associate dean for academic affairs at the college.I observed it at a couple of other state universities where it was very successful,Smith said.These students are chosen on the basis of their leadership abilities and academic records. The ambassadors are a great bunch of kids. It has been very helpful and valuable to me. Theyre very enthusiastic.

The students represent the college in various recruitment events, such as Mountaineer Visitation Days. They are also present at University-related functions on- and off-campus, like career days and other possible recruitment opportunities.

Anna Harris, a senior agriculture business management major and co-coordinator of the group, has been an ambassador for two years.

We usually go to West Virginia high schools and bring a PowerPoint presentation and packets of information about each major at the Davis College,Harris said.We also go to county fairs and sometimes set up booths at the state Capitol on certain days when people with interests in Davis College majors will be there.

The ambassadors also work on student retention, assisting students who may need help locating a tutor or who are dealing with homesicknessany area to help them succeed.

Quite often students relate better to fellow students than faculty,Smith said.In terms of recruitment and retention, the ambassadors connect very well. When we hook a student who is having difficulty up to one of the ambassadors, it works very well in terms of keeping students here.

Harris, of Keene, N.H., said the ambassadors spend varying amounts of time with the program.

It depends on what you put into it. You could spend as little as a few hours to 45 hours a week. Its a great way to meet other people who are motivated and love the college as much as you do,she said.

Harris is considering graduate school, but she has already been offered a position in recruitment. She said her position as an ambassador has helped her learn about the recruitment process, made her feel good about helping students and allowed her to feel more comfortable talking to adults and students.

The Davis College, which has approximately 1,500 undergraduate students and offers 22 majors, has some 20 student organizations.Our student organizations stay very active,Smith added.Over the years, since Ive been here, participation in student groups ebbs and flows. We always have a lot of things going on. We have a lot of good student leaders.