The FFAR Fellows Program
The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) created the FFAR Fellows Program to provide professional development and career guidance to the next generation of food and agriculture scientists across FFAR’s challenge areas and strategic initiatives.
The consensus among employers is that U.S. universities could better prepare a career ready STEM workforce by breaking down the disciplinary silos and increasing the focus on professional development and “soft-skills”, which would result in more well-rounded graduates. By providing early career support to graduate students, the program cultivates supportive relationships between graduate students and industry, government, and NGO peers to equip students with the skills needed to facilitate their transition to the workforce and prepare future leaders for food and agriculture. Fellows are co-mentored over the 3-year program by university and industry representatives and engage with their peers in professional development programming both virtually and at five in-person sessions.
Cohorts of ~25 Fellows train together and support each others as they continue through their respective graduate programs. One-hundred and nine fellows from 30+ institutions across the U.S. and Canada have participated in five cohorts, with recruitment underway for the sixth cohort to begin in August, 2023.
Each Fellow is supported by an industry or analogous sponsor, which funds half of the student’s expenses related to the fellowship’s professional development programming. Students can also apply for one of six scholarships beginning in 2023. For eight Stipend Fellows, sponsors also fund half of the student’s stipend, fees, tuition, and related costs. The remaining half of these funds are matched by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research.
Thanks to the FFAR Fellows Program I have made connections that will last throughout my life. Gatherings with the fellows are filled with learning and laughter. Of our many workshops and training especially beneficial to me has been learning about emotional intelligence and how to harness emotions to enhance productivity and success.
Participating as a FFAR Fellow has been transformational in evolving my professional skills, notably communication, networking and leadership skills. It has provided me the tools and resources to get out of my ‘grad bubble’ and think outside the box. I feel empowered to consider career choices outside academic research.
The FFAR Fellows Program has endowed me with the tools and skills needed to take my graduate education to the next level through both professional development and personal accountability in setting and achieving my goals, for my degree and my future career.
Through the FFAR Fellows Program I met extraordinary peers and professionals, and had the opportunity to develop a unique set of skills that considerably helped me have a positive impact on my work environment and beyond.
The FFAR Fellows program has connected me to a network of outstanding peers interested in leveraging agricultural research for change. With the community and professional development skills I’ve gained, I know I’ll leave this program with the skills to succeed [in my future career].
The FFAR Fellows program has given me the chance not only to build my professional development skills, but also to meet a network of creative and intelligent students working in all branches of food and agriculture research.
Being a FFAR Fellow has fundamentally enhanced my graduate school experience. The program connected me to a diverse, driven and supportive cohort of friends and colleagues, created opportunities for dialog with my advisors and mentors I would not have had otherwise, and helped hold me accountable for goals I’ve set.
The individualized attention I’m getting as a grad student because of the FFAR Program has made a huge difference in my grad school experience. The people who are organizing FFAR, and also my mentors – their whole attention is on the development of my career. That is really special.
Because of the FFAR Fellows, I can see that there is a difference between me and the other grad students across my department. Everyone knows what I am working on. I am grateful that I have gained the communication skills to share my work.
In grad school, you can tend to stay in your own bubble or zone. The FFAR Fellows is an opportunity to get out of the zone and look at the ‘big picture.’ What I mean by that is in terms of disciplines – you get to interact with other fellows who are working in different aspects of agriculture. It offers you opportunities for collaboration, to understand multi-disciplinary research.
I used to be a shy person, a person who was not that confident. But through the trainings and the goals that I have set for my Professional Development Plan, I think it is helping me to change some of the habits that I had before. The way I used to stand in front of people last year is different to how I stand now.
Meet the 2022-2025 FFAR Fellows!
North Carolina State University and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research are pleased to present the 2022-2025 FFAR Fellows! This year the Fellows program invited 28 students from across the U.S. and Canada. Each Fellow is supported by an industry or analogous sponsor, which funds half of the student’s expenses for a 3-year intensive in-person and virtual professional development program. North Carolina State University leads the FFAR Fellows program which kicked off with a one-week training session in August.