Thirty years ago, Dr. Marcus Bernard was selected to be an intern by then-U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) Administrator Pearlie Reed, himself a trailblazer in agriculture. So began Bernard’s journey with Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS).
“From that point on, MANRRS showed me a new world,” said Bernard, a student at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University at the time. “It introduced me to opportunities and careers in agriculture beyond the farm gate.”
As MANRRS President today, the Kentucky State University PhD and rural sociology professor is forging paths for minorities with ambitions in agriculture, natural resources and related sciences. MANRRS did the same for Nationwide Agronomy Claims Specialist Keith King.
“When I think of MANRRS, I think of mentoring, leadership, support, networking and expectations,” said King, who earned his PhD from Iowa State University and became involved in MANRRS as an undergraduate student at Langston University. “MANRRS is critical to developing the next generation of leaders in agriculture.”
It’s a calling close to former Nationwide Farm Manager and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa CEO Bridget Cravens-Neely's heart.
“Nationwide started as a company that met a need. Farmers needed insurance and someone to protect their assets,” said Cravens-Neely, current co-chair of the MANRRS Alumni Committee. “We now see a need in minority farm communities that Nationwide can help meet by working with MANRRS to support the next generation of agriculture leaders.”