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Organic Trade Association welcomes future organic leaders

Association creates student membership to help kickstart careers in organic

Maggie McNeil
(
mmcneil@ota.com
(202) 403-8514
(202) 615-7997
)
Washington , DC
US
 (
August 24, 2021
) — 

The future leaders of organic are studying agriculture or business at a university, majoring in science or health at a community college, or interning and mentoring on a farm, with a food brand, or in a Congressional office. The Organic Trade Association wants to connect with these young visionaries as they begin their career path, and has created a new membership category to engage students in the world of organic.

The association’s new student membership category will plug students in with professionals in the organic sector, engage them with ongoing policy and cutting-edge research, and help them lay the groundwork for future careers in organic industry, farming, policy, science, and more. Student members of the Organic Trade Association will have access to market insights, data forecasts, regulatory information, and to experienced organic farmers and others who can provide insights into the workings of organic agriculture

“Whether they are focused on business, science, agriculture, policy, health or any of the myriad other interests that contribute to a thriving organic industry, we want to get to know these future leaders early in their career explorations, offer the resources of the trade association, and let them know that organic is a great place to invest their life’s work,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association.

“The trade association’s experienced leaders know firsthand the many benefits of organic agriculture and the hope it offers to our world and planet, ant they’re eager to share that excitement and knowledge with the next generation,” added Batcha.

The Organic Trade Association has begun recruiting for student members, and is working with identified schools where curriculum and programs supporting organic agriculture are in place. While these schools are forming the core of initial outreach, the association is welcoming students from a wide range of schools – including universities and community colleges, internships and mentorship programs – and disciplines reflecting the diversity of the fields represented in the organic. As part of the association’s commitment to helping shape a more inclusive agricultural future for the good of the organic market and our communities, the trade association is also investing in direct outreach to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and 1890 Land Grant Institutions.

Filling in the holes of a college curriculum

Elizabeth Watkins is a junior at the University of Nevada, Reno, majoring in agriculture and journalism, and is one of the first students to take advantage of the new membership. Watkins grew up on a conventional farm and ranch and became interested in the organic industry after interning at an organic farm. She hopes to work as an agriculture broadcaster, and she said she wants to “learn more about organics so I am knowledgeable when asked about organic produce on television, radio, podcasts, or via print media.”

Watkins said that the trade association’s student membership fits right into her needs and her plans for the future: “After asking an industry leader where I could find credible research and consumer resources for educational uses, I was pointed to the Organic Trade Association. To my surprise the membership was free and the resources, industry insight, and networking have been exceptional. The Organic Trade Association helps to broaden my perspective and learn about current industry issues, holes that my college educational curriculum doesn’t fill.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that there are some 22 million jobs in the agriculture and food sectors, and many of these jobs are increasingly focused on how to support and create an organic and sustainable food system.

“Organic is a growth industry,” said Angela Jagiello, Director of Education & Insights for the Organic Trade Association. “With organic expanding at more than twice the rate of conventional products, we’ll need plenty of bright, innovative thinkers to lead the industry’s evolution. By welcoming students from a diversity of programs and disciplines, we will support these individuals in their career pursuits, and thus pave the way for organic’s continued success.”

In addition to access to the expertise of the Organic Trade Association, future plans for the program include opportunities to complete a foundational organic curriculum through a professional certification program, as well as opportunities for networking, internships and more.

The annual membership fee to join the trade association for this category is $50. However, the association has established a generous scholarship program to allow qualified candidates to participate regardless of their ability to pay. Interested students will undergo a simple application process that asks why they are inspired by organic, as well as where and what they are studying. The application can be made online, or via video submission.

For more information about student memberships, contact Angie Jagiello.

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The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. OTA is the leading voice for the organic trade in the United States, representing over 9,500 organic businesses across 50 states. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members. OTA's mission is to promote and protect ORGANIC with a unifying voice that serves and engages its diverse members from farm to marketplace. The Organic Trade Association does not discriminate on the basis of age, disability, national origin or ancestry, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, political affiliation or military status. Persons with disabilities who require alternate means for communication of program information can contact us at info@ota.com.