University of Kentucky Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) Diversity

By Aimee Nielson

For the fifth consecutive year, the University of Kentucky MANRRS chapter was named National Chapter of the Year at the recent 32nd annual conference for Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences. The chapter is housed in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment

Quentin Tyler, assistant dean and director of the college’s Office of Diversity, heaped praise on the students and chapter co-advisor Mia Farrell, who won advisor of the year. Tyler is in his final year serving as the immediate past president and will move into a three-year commitment as the National MANRRS Advisory Board Chair.

“I am very proud of the strength, courage and vision of this group. UK MANRRS continues to set the bar high for other chapters,” he said. “They performed well in the classroom and excelled in the areas of community and campus involvement, leadership and buying into the big picture of what MANRRS represents. Five years of being recognized as the best chapter of 75 across 38 states is an amazing accomplishment.”

Tyler and co-advisors Farrell, Dale Morgan and Ashley Holt took more than 60 delegates to Pittsburgh for the conference. The students’ written report and oral presentation to the national gathering described the chapter’s membership, leadership development, community service and activities, and contained ideas for promoting the national society.

In addition to the overall chapter recognition, UK MANRRS brought home individual honors. Fabian Leon, a sophomore majoring in agricultural biotechnology, was elected as the national undergraduate parliamentarian. Juwan Page, a freshman majoring in agriculture education and equine science, won first place in the public speaking contest. Page said he’s come a long way from his first MANRRS meeting, where he was very uncomfortable.

“I said that, because growing up, my parents always told me that there is no growth in a comfort zone and no comfort in a growth zone,” Page explained. “My advisors, peers and this organization as a whole challenge me to grow professionally through networking and being a servant leader."

Jaeana Gates, a junior human nutrition major, was elected as the Region III vice president.

“MANRRS has been a driving force that has kept me from accepting complacency,” she said. “It has played a key role in cultivating my heart and nurturing my mind, putting me in a place to be successful and to continue to reach my full potential.”

Farrell was named advisor of the year.

“As I received the award, it seemed so surreal to me,” she said. “I remember being an undergraduate UK MANRRS member 10 years ago, wanting to make an impact much like Quentin Tyler made in many students’ lives. I can say that my wish has become a reality to see the direct impact that I am making on the students daily within an organization that means so much to me. I am truly blessed, humbled and honored.”

Junior agricultural economics major Marcus Tyler has served the past year as national MANRRS president. He said the experience has been a blessing and a challenge.

“It allows me to expand my network with a wide range of diverse students and professionals, learn more about the agricultural industry as a whole, but most importantly, provide mentorship and opportunities to my peers,” he said. “I began my journey with MANRRS as a high school student. It was inspiring to have a dedicated advisor such as (Farrell) around to provide encouragement, support and guidance. I can truly say I am a product of this organization.”