USDA Selects 16 Minority-Serving Institutions for Agricultural Export Market Challenge

Diverse Student Teams from Colleges and Universities Across the United States Will Tackle a Case Study Addressing Climate-Smart Agriculture, Nutrition Security, and International Trade
  |   News Release

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2023 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), in cooperation with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), announces the selection of 16 minority-serving educational institutions which will participate in the 2023 USDA Agricultural Export Market Challenge.

Launched in 2022, the Challenge is an immersive learning experience for undergraduate students. Participating teams explore the work of FAS and accrue knowledge and skills in diplomacy, economics, marketing, scientific analysis, and trade policy. This year's program is co-hosted by FAS and HACU.

“My excitement for this year's USDA Agricultural Export Market Challenge in partnership with HACU has been heightened after meeting the faculty members and talented and ambitious students selected to participate in the program from some of our country's best minority-serving schools,” said FAS Administrator Daniel B. Whitley. 

The 17 teams selected to compete in the Challenge hail from 16 minority-serving institutions:

  • Alverno College, Milwaukee, Wis.
  • California State University, Bakersfield, Calif.
  • California State University, Chico, Calif.
  • California State University, Fresno, Calif.
  • California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Calif.
  • Columbia Basin College, Pasco, Wash.
  • Dominican University, River Forest, Ill.
  • Kean University, Union, N.J. (two teams)
  • Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Mo.
  • New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, N.M.
  • North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, N.C.
  • North Shore Community College, Danvers, Mass.
  • St. Mary's University, San Antonio, Texas
  • Sul Ross State University, Alpine, Texas
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nev.
  • West Texas A&M University, Canyon, Texas

“This is a unique opportunity for the students to investigate some of the most pressing issues facing global agriculture while learning about the important work of FAS in supporting U.S. agriculture in international markets. I’m particularly excited about the mentorship opportunity the students will receive from FAS technical experts and managers in Washington, D.C., and around the world,” Whitley added.

The Administrator is optimistic that the experience will be overwhelmingly positive for the students, and potentially life-changing for some as they may choose to pursue FAS internships or careers after graduation.

This week’s kickoff signals the start of the Challenge, which will take place online for the next six weeks.

“As the implementing partner on this project, HACU is dedicated to providing learning opportunities that challenge students to seek possible solutions to real world problems,” said HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores. “Through this project and case study, students are presented a scenario to seek ways to address issues, including creating new market opportunities, fostering climate solutions, and strengthening food security - all current USDA priorities.”

The teams that complete the Challenge will present their solutions to FAS leadership in March. The winning team will receive the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with USDA leaders. To learn more about the Challenge visit

This initiative and partnership between FAS and HACU align with the Biden-Harris Administration's Executive Order 13985 on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government and is another example of the Department's and Agency’s commitment to advancing equity.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

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