A West Virginia University undergraduate is among 22 university students who will examine the future of agriculture. Patrick Parsons of Parkersburg will represent the Mountain State at the USDA’s 2010 Agricultural Outlook Forum.

The finalists include students from Land-Grant, Hispanic-Serving Institutions and American Association of State Colleges of Agriculture and Renewable Resources institutions who are the recipients of corporate and USDA sponsorships aimed at promoting the education of the next generation of agriculturalists.

“USDA’s Outlook Forum offers these students an opportunity to hear government and industry leaders discuss the current economic outlook and describe their vision, policies and direction for agriculture’s future,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We hope this experience will help these young women and men become leaders in the 21st century agriculture economy and address the important issues facing America’s farmers and ranchers.”

The 2010 Outlook Forum titled, “Sustainable Agriculture: The Key to Health & Prosperity,” is USDA’s largest annual event and will be held Feb. 18 and 19 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va.

Parsons is a senior pursuing dual majors in WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. He will graduate in 2011 with majors in animal and nutritional sciences and political science, and minors in agribusiness management and rural development and economics.

“I am looking forward to the sessions on climate change and global commerce,” Parsons said. “After graduating from WVU, I am going to law school with the hope of eventually entering a career in international environmental law or agricultural trade and sustainable development, so hearing from experts that work in these fields is a great way to gain both knowledge and career insight.”

Parsons said a session titled “Modernization of China’s Agricultural Economy” is especially important to him because in March he will compete for the second time at the National Model United Nations Conference in New York City representing China on the Commission for Sustainable Development.

“The first topic on the Commission’s agenda at the competition in New York is ‘Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development,’ expert analysis on China’s agricultural development will give me a huge advantage when researching China’s development policies,” Parsons said.
Parsons has already held a number of leadership roles in WVU student organizations. He is president of Davis College Student Council and the Collegiate Farm Bureau; a member of the WVU Model United Nations Team, which just returned from a conference in Quito, Ecuador; and is treasurer of Block & Bridle. He was recently selected for a summer internship in the U.S. State Department in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

The 22 university juniors and seniors majoring in agricultural-related studies were selected based on their essays, “Agriculture as a Career,” and recommendations from their deans.

In addition to USDA leaders, this year’s forum will feature U.S. Trade Representative Ronald Kirk and guest speakers from the private sector.

Plenary speeches will be webcast after 6 p.m. EST on Feb. 18. A list of speakers and registration information is available at: www.usda.gov/oce/forum.



CONTACT: News and Information Services