|The United States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is the public health agency that ensures the nation's commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged. FSIS has jurisdiction over products that generate more than $120 billion in sales annually. We are the nation's largest employer of Veterinarians and have an inspection workforce of over 6000 inspectors. Typically FSIS recruits students' from 4-year colleges with major studies in food science, animal science, veterinary technology, and nutrition.
Since 2004, FSIS has entered into four Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with three Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and one Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). We have a focused commitment at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, Virginia State University, University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and New Mexico State University. By signing a MOU with the above schools, FSIS has committed to having recruiters visit campus at least twice a year participating in career fairs, serving as guest lecturers, and meeting with student groups and faculty. This year, FSIS plans to enter into at least one additional MOU.
Signing a MOU shows FSIS' commitment to building a strong business relationship with the university by having a presence on campus and by hiring their students and graduates. In addition to our MOU schools, FSIS actively recruits at twelve other schools that fall in the HBCU and HSI category. The level of involvement at our MOU schools and other HBCU/HSI schools has allowed us to hire 14 students in 2004 and 24 students in 2005, all under the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) with four being 1890 scholars. Fifteen of these students worked additional periods in 2006. We have had six students convert to permanent positions after they graduated during the time periods of 2004-2006.
When we attend campus career fairs, we encourage students who work for us to join our recruiters and share their experiences with their fellow students. These students are also encouraged to give classroom presentations on public health and the importance of the FSIS mission. We have found that a student sharing their FSIS experiences at the school makes a significant impact on increasing the interest in FSIS.
FSIS has also utilized the Career Intern (CI) Program to recruit graduating students. We hired one CI in 2006 from New Mexico State University. This student is working under a formal training program which includes on-the-job training and Agency-developed training courses. This is a full-time internship which will last for a period of two years. Upon successful completion of the internship, the intern will be eligible to move into a career position. Two of our CIs that started in 2004 from Fort Valley State University were converted into career positions in 2006.
Recently one of our Public Heath Veterinarians, Dr. Ahmad Jiliani, was selected as a USDA Liaison at one of our MOU schools, the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore. He has a dual role at this school, as a USDA liaison and as a FSIS recruiter. This is an invaluable opportunity for FSIS to spread the word!
In addition to our partnerships with educational institutions, FSIS has moved aggressively to strengthen our relationships with minority associations. On November 9, 2006, FSIS signed a MOU with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). The MOU establishes a framework for cooperative work efforts between FSIS and LULAC. It outlines and reflects the commitment of both parties to strengthen relationships and outreach activities with educational institutions, professional and minority organizations, and the overall Hispanic community. Both FSIS and LULAC wish to increase efforts to provide opportunities for students and potential candidates for employment and various program opportunities in the field of agriculture. A similar MOU was established with the Asian Pacific American Network in Agriculture (APANA) earlier this year.
With the support of LULAC, APANA, and similar organizations, FSIS will continue to strengthen our workforce by embracing diversity and fostering an environment that promotes recruitment of minorities.