Student Spotlight: MANRRS Region 1 Vice President, Ashley Fennell!

April 24, 2023

Congratulations to Junior AREC major Ashley Fennell who has placed 1st in the Public Speaking competition at the recent MANRRS National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia! Ashley was also elected the new MANRRS Region 1 Vice President and University of Maryland MANRRS chapter President-Elect. Ashley is also a member of Restore and one of the student supervisors at the Campus Pantry.

UMD MANRRS, or Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences, is a national society that welcomes people of all racial and ethnic groups to participate in agricultural and related science careers. Their mission is to promote academic and professional advancement by empowering minorities in agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences. Read more to learn about Ashley and MANRRS!

How did you get involved in MANRRS? Tell us more about what the organization is and your involvement at the UMD level and beyond?
I joined MANRRS while I was a Sophomore in High School. While in high school, I was a student in the Environmental Studies Academy. Through this academy, I had the opportunity to learn about all aspects of agriculture, including horticulture and animal science. I raised chickens and pigs, worked with hydroponic and aquaponic systems, and I learned about traditional gardening and farming. Through this program, I also became a member of FFA formerly known as "Future Farmers of America" and Jr. MANRRS. Naturally, when I arrived at UMD I wanted to stay involved with the organization, so I joined Maryland's collegiate MANRRS chapter. MANRRs stands for “Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences”. This is a national organization such as FFA and their mission is to “promote the academic and professional advancement by empowering minorities in agricultural, natural resources, and related sciences”(source). Each year the organization hosts regional and national conferences where students are able to network with industry professionals and other students, compete in competitions, and attend leadership workshops. At this year's 37th Annual National Conference held in Atlanta GA, I competed in the public speaking competition. My speech had to focus on the conference theme. This year the theme was “Collaborate, Cultivate, and Motivate”. This year I walked away as the first-place winner in the Prepared Public Speaking Competition, and I was granted the opportunity of performing my speech one final time in front of the entire conference attendees. This year was the largest conference ever to be held by the MANRRS organization, with approximately 2200 guests in attendance. From this year's conference, I am also excited to announce that I am now serving as the Region 1 Undergraduate Vice President on the MANRRS National Officer Team.

Ashley at the MANRRS conference


“Since I will be serving on the National Officer Team, and Maryland's Chapter President, be on the lookout for some exciting events and opportunities held within this MANRRS chapter for the upcoming school year” 

Why should students join MANRRS?
I believe other students should join MANRRS, because it is a great space to network with industry professionals and other students with similar interests. Being a minority in this field has its challenges and being involved in MANRRS has definitely provided a space for me to feel comfortable within this industry. This organization also serves as a second family to me so I strongly encourage everyone within this field to be involved.

What sets AREC faculty and programs apart from others?
One thing that sets the AREC department apart from others is I enjoy having the flexibility to take other courses across different disciplines within the college of AGNR. This major gives me the opportunity to combine my love for agriculture and business together.

What are your aspirations after graduation?
Currently, I am a junior at the University of Maryland College Park majoring in Agricultural and Resource Economics. In the upcoming year, I hope to obtain my bachelor's degree within the AREC department. After I have completed my Bachelor's Degree, I would like to continue my education and obtain my Master's Degree in Marketing. My goal is to continue with my education at the University of Maryland College Park. I believe with an understanding of Economics and Marketing, I can make a difference in the lives of farmers in the United States. My long-term career goal is to work for the United States Department of Agriculture in their Marketing Services Department. In this department, I hope to help with the selling and distribution of small and rural farmers products.


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