Central High School junior Jayland Jones spent part of his summer at the AgriTrek program at Tuskegee University in Alabama and came away with several awards.
The two-week program is chock full of educational opportunities for any student interested in a career in agriculture. Jayland said he spent his time doing a variety of activities, both educational and fun.
One of the best parts about the trip was the people, he said. Jayland is not the type of person to approach other people, but he was able to make connections, he said.
“When I was there, I made a lot of friends,” Jayland said. “When I got there, I didn’t know what to expect, but the energy around was pretty welcoming, friendly and nice.”
The students trained with airport security, learning how dogs can sniff out different produce and how there is a department for identifying plants on planes. The students toured the stockyard, an organic blueberry farm and went whitewater rafting. Jayland said it was more fun than he anticipated.
The students dissected sick chickens during the program, and Jayland said he was not a fan.
“That really stunk; I didn’t really like that at all,” he said.
The students also participated in several research labs. One lab was an essay for the World Food Prize. Jayland won a Borlaug Scholar award for his essay on the country of Togo and its international trade.
Another research project included a group project on how farmers can stop over producing products and what consumers would like to see come out of Tuskegee. He and his group won third place and the George Washington Carver Research Award.
Jayland was also awarded the Booker T. Washington Leadership Award.
Jayland plans on becoming an ag engineer and getting a degree in equine science. He said the leaders of the program told him to keep in touch and they could help him get into a program and fund his tuition.
“It feels good to have this experience, meet new people, try new things, go places I’ve never been before,” Jayland said.
For more information on the AgriTrek program, visit tuskegee.edu/programs-courses/colleges-schools/caens/conferences-workshops/agritrekscitrek.