Agricultural students earn top awards at national conference

by Latasha Ford

Posted on Jun 12, 2018

Fort Valley State University students Rene Bynum, Demetrius Calloway and Kiamata Dukes win first, second and third place awards

A national organization that empowers minorities in agriculture, natural resources and related sciences recently awarded three Fort Valley State University students during a conference in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Rene Bynum, Demetrius Calloway and Kiamata Dukes earned plaques and cash awards for winning first, second and third place at the 33rd annual Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) Career Fair and Training Conference. Nineteen FVSU students attended the event. Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim, coordinator and professor of the agricultural economics program, is the adviser for the MANRRS chapter on campus.

Bynum, who graduated this spring from FVSU with a bachelor's degree in animal science, received $300 for her first place win in the Undergraduate Student Oral Research Contest for Division I – Biological, Chemical and Physical Sciences.

"I was shocked," Bynum said. "That was my first time presenting that project anywhere." She presented her research on "Comparison of Cryopreservation Rates of Goat Tissue Using a Commercial Kit and Lab-Made Kit." She found that the lab-made kit is better for budgetary reasons.

Winning the top award as a new MANRRS member, Bynum said she enjoyed the experience and the opportunity to network and interview with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Forest Service.

The 22-year-old Riverdale, Georgia, native said FVSU's MANRRS chapter provides a relaxed environment and opportunities to grow, make friends and participate in community service. She recommends that other students join the organization, as well as pursue a degree in FVSU's College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology. "I love the animal science program. Everybody is always pushing me to do my best," she said, commending Dr. Eugene Amoah, animal science professor, on his support.

In addition, Calloway won second place in the same category as Bynum on his research about the fate of atmospheric mercury in ephemeral wetlands. The 22-year-old Dawson, Georgia, native received $200.

Calloway, a senior animal science major, is not only proud of his achievement, but he is also excited for his two fellow peers. "Fort Valley always goes out and does great. We take our education serious and whatever we do, we put our best foot forward," he said.

His service as a MANRRS member includes leading a national collaborative effort sub-committee to prepare for the annual conference, work with other organizations and help students. "It is a family-oriented organization and I encourage students to get involved on campus. You can grow and network," Calloway advised.

Furthermore, Dukes received $100 for her third place win in her division for the undergraduate oral research contest. She researched the hazard analysis and critical control points for goat meat facilities in Georgia.

Dukes, who recently graduated with a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics, served as president of FVSU's MANRRS chapter. Pleased with her award, the 23-year-old Crosby, Texas, native said the conference provided a great experience and practice for public speaking.

"MANRRS is a great professional organization for college students," Dukes said. "There are so many companies that are looking for minority students who are young and bright. It is a great opportunity to be leaders in those positions."

For more information about MANRRS, contact Ibrahim at (478) 825-6815 or

  • Categories:
  • FVSU Agriculture College