USDA Women in Ag host Girl Scouts

Photo: Girl Scouts surround the animatronic Smokey Bear.
After the Women in STEM Ag panel, the Girl Scouts visited the Forest Service Information Center and "met" Smokey Bear in his office. Forest Service photo.

WASHINGTON, DC — Last week, local DC Girl Scouts, Brownies and Daisies attended a USDA Women in Ag Science, Technology, Engineering and Math panel featuring female USDA scientists and engineers who shared their work and discussed the experiences that shaped their careers.

Director of Knowledge Management and Communications in Research and Development Tracy Hancock was one of the panelists. She discussed her passion for communicating science on behalf of R&D and her previous experience as a hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey. Another Forest Service panelist, professional engineer and assistant national facilities program manager Kathryn “Katie” Kaufman, talked about her experience designing and constructing roads, bridges, water systems and buildings and provided advice about selecting classes to prepare for high school and college.

Panelists from other USDA agencies included Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Research, Education and Economic; Kimberly Hennings, Cyber Security—Compliance, Audits, Policy & Enforcement for the Office of the Chief Information Officer; Marlene Cole, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Kis Robertson-Hale, Office of Public Health, Food Safety Inspection Service. Jacobs-Young explained the challenges and rewards in her roles as acting USDA chief scientist and acting deputy under secretary for REE as well as her experience as the first African American woman to become administrator of the Agricultural Research Service. Hennings talked about providing management and leadership across cyber security program initiatives; Cole, a landscape and community ecologist, described her work with invasive species, climate change and biotechnology; and Robertson-Hale, deputy assistant administrator, discussed how her work supports a modernized scientific response to foodborne illness outbreaks.

After the panel, the scouts were treated to a demonstration on insect behavior by Dawn Gundersen-Rindal, research leader of the Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory in the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. Representatives from the National Agricultural Library—Ursula Pieper, applications branch chief in the Information Systems Division, and Susan McCarthy, associate director for Knowledge Services, spoke to the scouts about the modernization of communications technology.

During their visit, the scouts toured the Whitten patio and the Forest Service Information Center at the Sidney R. Yates Building. Forest Service tours were led by Kenli Kim, social scientist/national program leader for Social Science Research, and Deidra McGee, detailed with the National Partnership Office as a national liaison.

Each Girl Scout left the event with a swag bag of USDA goodies and a whole lot of career inspiration.

Photo: Young Girl Scout gets hands-on at Forest Service display.
A Daisy got to be hands-on after the discussion at the Women in Agriculture STEM panel.