Grow Horizons BIPOC event aims to find solutions to challenges in education & the workforce

In late April, Grand Farm hosted Grow Horizons: BIPOC Careers in Ag and Innovation, an event held at Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead, Minnesota to identify challenges people of color face in the agriculture industry, how to bridge those gaps and to find possible solutions. Our team will use these discussions to create a pain point report to offer ways to overcome these issues.

Dr. William Nganje speaks during Grow Horizons.

Speakers came from academia and workforce industries including:

  • North Dakota State University Agribusiness Department Chair Dr. William Nganje
  • North Dakota State University Big Data Director Dr. Ana Heilman
  • North Dakota State University Assistant Professor Dr. Ewumbua Moreno
  • North Dakota State University Graduate Student Lennel Camuy-Vele
  • NSF FARMS Chief Strategy Officer Dr. Hollie Mackey
  • Microsoft America Dynamics Team Manager Gail Collins
  • Job Service North Dakota Executive Director Patrick Bertagnolli
A panel discussion with Dr. Ana Heilman, Gail Collins, Lennel Camuy-Velez, Patrick Bertagnolli and Dr. Ewumbua Monono.

They took part in conversations about how to amplify BIPOC voices in the agriculture industry as well as mentors, positions of power and education.

Attendees discuss challenges and possible solutions on education and workforce issues.

Breakout sessions allowed attendees to describe the challenges they’re seeing in education, apprenticeships and the workforce. They include an emphasis on English proficiency rather than skills, agriculture being a male-dominated industry and religious accommodations. Gaps people are experiencing include lack of knowledge about opportunities in agriculture, different educational backgrounds (such as using the metric system instead of the imperial system) and biases. Possible solutions brainstormed include more inclusive education, mentors from all backgrounds, representation in positions of power and “try before you buy” apprenticeships. Everyone was able to record event wrap-up conversations where they described the event, discussions and their hopes for the future with the Bison Information Network.

Attendees sharing their thoughts on the event during podcast sessions with Bison Information Network.

“The convergence of diverse perspectives from educators, industry experts, students, and job service representatives sparked innovative conversations and fostered collaboration in addressing critical challenges. Our interdisciplinary discussions on workforce development, educational opportunities, and industry collaboration were not just conversations; they were pathways to a more inclusive and resilient future,” Senior Program Manager of Education and Research Dr. Ruchi Bhardwaj said.

BernBaum’s chef Candace Stock

Diversity was also recognized by the food made by BernBaum’s Chef Candace Stock. The meal included Indigenous options with a menu of braised lamb, potato samosas, peri peri broasted chicken, jollof rice with plantains and sweet corn cake with blueberry wojapi.

Response to Grow Horizons has been positive.

You can see more pictures from the event here.