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A small percentage of Americans farm, yet more than 21 million Americans are employed in non-traditional agriculture careers, many of which require advanced degrees, reports the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

A unique summer science program gives Florida’s high school juniors and seniors exposure to those vast agricultural careers and the college degrees that can get them there.

The Florida Youth Institute is a one-week residential program offered twice in July on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville. Each session welcomes 25 mature high school students who seek an engaging experience that complements their interest in the future of agriculture and related sciences. The program’s sponsors include the University of Florida’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

During the program, students examine issues in agriculture, life sciences and natural resources. They participate in a variety of interactive lessons and talk through global challenges, such as food security. While on campus, participants will engage with faculty, staff, and current students in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. They will experience indoor and outdoor campus laboratories, various campus facilities, and learn about life in a campus residence hall. Participants also will meet some of Florida’s top agricultural leaders, including the dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The one-week program costs $350 and includes all of these experiences, as well as daily meals and lodging in Hume Residence Hall on the University of Florida campus. Residency during the week is required. Each residence hall suite includes two double- occupancy bedrooms and a shared bathroom.

Students must apply by mid-March at www.cpet.ufl.edu/students/florida-youth-institute. The application requires a teacher’s endorsement, student-written essay and proof of grade point average. Interested students should apply regardless of financial means. Applications for financial assistance are available by request.

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