photo of interns from MSU CAMP program

This pilot program is a partnership between MSU Migrant Student Services (MSS), CoBank, Farm Credit, and the National HEP/CAMP Association.

Michigan State University Migrant Student Services is proud to announce the National Migrant Scholars Internship Initiative.  This pilot program is a partnership between MSU Migrant Student Services (MSS), CoBank, Farm Credit, and the National HEP/CAMP Association.

The program, housed and administered by MSU Migrant Student Services, when fully implemented, is designed to encourage and support students enrolled in 41 different CAMP projects throughout the United States in finding paid experiential learning opportunities to better prepare them for their careers.

“This program focuses on providing CAMP students with non-traditional internship opportunities,” Luis Alonzo Garcia, Director of MSU Migrant Student Services, said.  “Though the program is not limited to the agriculture industry, many of our students have found internships within agriculture.  This has been a real learning opportunity.  CAMP students, because of their migrant work experience, are very familiar with the farming part of the agriculture industry, but we want them to look at this industry they know so well from a different perspective so they understand the wide variety of professional opportunities that exist in the agriculture industry which range from science to business to communications to accounting, just to name a few.” 

This national initiative is phase two of the pilot program.  Phase one took place during the 2015 academic year, when only MSU CAMP students were placed in internships thanks to a $100,000 gift from CoBank.  The CoBank Internship Fellows Program successfully supported nine professional internships for MSU CAMP students during the summer of 2015 and will support eight to 10 more internships for MSU CAMP students during summer 2016. 

“CoBank and the entire Farm Credit System are committed to the future of U.S. agriculture,” Rodney Patterson, CoBank’s corporate diversity officer, said.  “In addition to providing financial services to our traditional customers, we regularly invest in programs that encourage young and diverse audiences to pursue the many opportunities the industry can offer.  The students who participated in the first phase of the pilot brought with them their own unique understanding of the industry as well as a strong desire to succeed.  They proved to be valuable assets for the participating employers and we hope to expand upon that success by opening the program up to additional students and employers.”

During phase two, thanks to a $250,000 gift from CoBank, MSU Migrant Student Services will collaborate with at least five CAMP projects across the nation; place 20 to 25 interns throughout the 2016 calendar year; and continue to build a network of employers to participate in the program. 

“Seven of the employers we worked with during phase one – CoBank, GreenStone FCS, Sunset Produce, Wonderful Citrus, Telamon Corporation, Neogen, and HELENA Chemical – have enthusiastically agreed to continue on with the program in phase two.” Garcia said. 

CAMP students gain a wide variety of benefits from participating in this internship program, including:  exploring the many different professions within the world of agriculture; obtaining work experience and transferrable skills; gaining practical on-the-job experience by leveraging what they learned through their migrant work experience; networking with professionals as well as financial support.  Additionally, the employers participating in the program are able to identify potential future employees with strong work ethics, unique and valuable skill sets; cost share intern wages or turn unpaid internships into paid internships and gain brand exposure in new communities. 

“These internships are vital, helping CAMP students succeed in both their academic and professional careers,” Garcia said.  “Individuals enrolled in CAMP are first-generation college students so they are sometimes unaware of the things they need to do to succeed.  This initiative gives them the perfect opportunity to pursue professional development while opening up the doors to new opportunities.”

HEP and CAMP are educational programs which serve students from migrant or seasonal farmworker families. HEP helps students who have dropped out of high school get their High School Equivalency Credential, and nationally serves more than 6,000 students annually. CAMP assists students in their first year of college with academic, personal, and financial support. CAMP nationally serves approximately 2,400 migrant participants annually. Overall, nearly three-quarters of all CAMP students graduate with baccalaureate degrees.  These two programs, which have achieved stunning success rates since their inception, are funded through U.S. Department of Education - Office of Migrant Education grants and are administered by universities, colleges and non-profit organizations nationwide.

For more information about MSU Migrant Student Services, or the National Migrant Scholars Internship Initiative, visit the MSU MSS website or contact Aleida Martinez at (517) 432-4476 or marti995@vps.msu.edu.