WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the participants in the 2009 class of the USDA Public Service Leaders Scholarship Program.

"It is important that USDA has a pipeline of skilled and diverse employees and the Public Service Leaders Scholarship Program is both a strategic initiative to attract the next generation of qualified public servants and an investment in the future of American agriculture," said Vilsack.

The USDA Public Service Leaders Program provides a combined scholarship and internship opportunity designed to promote public service and create access to higher education for college students. The scholarship provides full tuition, books, the use of a laptop computer, student employment with USDA, mentoring, and leadership training. Upon graduation, scholars work as permanent employees at USDA for one year for each year of financial assistance they receive.

The program is sponsored by four USDA agencies: the Foreign Agricultural Service, the Farm Service Agency, the National Agricultural Statistics Service, and the Economic Research Service. The Public Service Leaders Scholars Program helps ensure the availability of a well-trained and diverse workforce at USDA.

The 2009 USDA Public Service Leaders Scholars, and the agencies sponsoring them, are:

  • William Dovale, master's degree candidate in international relations, Florida International University, Miami, Fla., sponsored by the Foreign Agricultural Service.

  • Yesshenia Perez, bachelor's degree candidate in agricultural business, Miami Dade College, Miami, Fla., sponsored by the Farm Service Agency.

  • Tomas Resendiz, bachelor's degree candidate in agriculture and economics, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, sponsored by the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

  • Devin Roberson, doctoral degree candidate in agricultural economics, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., sponsored by the Economic Research Service.

  • For additional information on the USDA Public Service Leaders Scholarship Program and the Hispanic-Serving Institutions National Program, visit www.hsi.usda.gov.