The FFAR Fellows Program
Federico Tarnonsky, 2022-2025 Fellow, University of Florida
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.