Skip to Main Content

Mentoring program for minority graduate students receives national honor

Mentoring at Purdue (M@P), a mentoring program housed within Purdue University’s College of Agriculture, received The National Experiment Station Section’s inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Award. The Experiment Station Section is an arm of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, which is a research, policy and advocacy organization devoted to advancing the work of land-grant institutions. Levon Esters, a professor in the Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication Department (ASEC), and Neil Knobloch, an ASEC professor, founded the program to facilitate the successful growth of students academically, professionally and personally.  

Esters explains that the program was also established to increase diversity in the College of Agriculture.

“Within the STEM discipline there are not many students of color or women pursuing graduate degrees,” Esters said. “Students leave school for a few reasons. Often it’s that they don’t have enough financial support or they get inadequate mentoring.”

M@P is also a major recruiting tool for the College of Agriculture. As a student, graduate school can be difficult to navigate, so the concept of individual mentorship is often appealing.

“Mentoring may seem easy on first glance, but being inclusive and intentional in providing support and guidance is important to increasing diversity, equality and inclusion in graduate education,” Knobloch said.

On Oct. 3, Esters and Knobloch accepted the award in Lincoln, NE on behalf of every member of the M@P team. The award was presented by the Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy (ESCOP). A major role of ESCOP is to promote and recognize excellence in agricultural research and education. Esters said he hopes the recognition M@P received will prompt other institutions to consider similar programs. It’s imperative that universities give these students the building blocks to succeed.

“The M@P workshops and other activities are drawing not only students, but also faculty and staff members. M@P is making a real difference in our College’s conversations around diversity and inclusion,” said Karen Plaut, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of the College of Agriculture. “It is a model of an effective program and I am so glad it is getting the national recognition it deserves as well as the opportunity to help others develop similar programs.”

Zachary Brown, an ASEC graduate student, said the resources and support offered by M@P were a major reason he decided to pursue a degree at Purdue. The M@P program guided him through the application process and provided a support network when his studies began.

“It was great to establish connections ahead of time, before ever coming to campus,” Brown said. “It definitely facilitated my decision to come to Purdue.”

Featured Stories

Alex Dudley holds a black vulture; Alex is pictured through a hole in a rock formation; Alex holds her camera in front of a forested mountain landscape.
Meet FNR Outstanding Senior Alex Dudley

From her research on black vulture ecology in the Zollner lab and on digital forestry under Dr....

Read More
Yellow flowers against a leafy green background
April Showers Bring May Flowers to Jules Janick Horticulture Garden

The sweet smell of hundreds of blossoms draws pollinators and people alike to the Jules Janick...

Read More
Dr. Rob Swihart, Bob Burke and others at an HTIRC meeting in 2016.
FNR Remembers Alumnus, HTIRC Advisory Committee Member Bob Burke

Robert Dean “Bob” Burke, who received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue...

Read More
John Couture in Martell Greenhouse at the Wright Center.
John Couture named University Faculty Scholar for multifaceted research in plant and insect ecology

John Couture has been chosen as a 2024 University Faculty Scholar for his exceptional research...

Read More
Bob Auber presents from a screen titled "A Day in the Life." In the foreground, there are two graduate students watching.
‘Plants to people:’ Bob Auber’s path from the Center for Plant Biology to oncology

On Friday March 22, Bob Auber returned to Room 116 in Whistler Hall to stand behind a podium in...

Read More
Measuring soil in a field
New Indiana Organic Network to engage farmers in statewide soil health census

A Purdue University interdisciplinary team is establishing a network of organic farmers to...

Read More
To Top