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USDA Chief Scientist Catherine Woteki to Visit Eleanor Roosevelt High School

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As part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's commitment to encourage the next generation of scientists, USDA Chief Scientist and Undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics Catherine Woteki will speak at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Md., on December 9.

Students in the school's Watershed Integrated Study Program (WISP), led by award-winning chemistry teacher Coit Hendley, are creating games about agriculture to educate other young people about where today's food comes from, and ultimately to inspire their peers to get involved in the work needed to feed the world population of the future. USDA plans to support the students' game development by providing expert advice and data resources where needed.

"In an economy hungry for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates, these college-bound seniors are exactly who we need to recruit into careers in food, agriculture and natural resources," said Woteki. "These future scientists will play a crucial role in helping to sustainably feed the planet's growing population."

Since the announcement last week of Woteki's upcoming visit to the school, nearly 100 seniors have signed up for the opportunity to hear her and join her in a question-and-answer session. Woteki will discuss career opportunities in agriculture as well as her own experiences moving upward as a young female scientist during an era when few women were pursuing STEM careers. She will be accompanied by Charles Onwulata, director of the Office of the Chief Scientist, and Tawny Mata, her advisor on education.

Eleanor Roosevelt High School has an ethnically rich student body of 2,450, including 59.2 percent African-Americans, 14.06 percent Caucasians, 13.7 percent Hispanics, 9.6 percent Asians, and 2.7 percent multiracial students. Some of these ethnic groups are underrepresented in STEM careers, and USDA is seeking ways to broaden their participation.

Dr. Catherine Woteki is Under Secretary for United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area, as well as the Department's Chief Scientist. Her responsibilities include oversight of the four agencies that comprise REE, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Economic Research Service (ERS), and National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The National Agriculture Library and National Arboretum also fall under this mission area.
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