Student News

UK hosts 12th annual Junior MANRRS Leadership Institute

Students standing in front of Good Barn
Junior MANRRS Leadership Institute
Dean Nancy Cox
Students using bicycle to create art
Student showing art
Students working on project
Antomia “Mia” Farrell, Ph.D., associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 22, 2023) — “Without agriculture, you’re either naked or hungry.” That’s the message middle and high school students received at the 12th annual Junior MANRRS Leadership Institute.

The University of Kentucky Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s student chapter of the national honor society Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) hosted over 100 high and middle school students from throughout the commonwealth at the annual event.

“We host the annual program to expose 7-12th grade students to the college, programs and mentorship with our collegiate MANRRS members,” said Antomia Farrell, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion. “This program has been a significant recruitment tool for the college, specifically connecting with students from diverse backgrounds.”

Students received an immersive experience during the two-day event, connecting them with the world of agriculture, engineering and technology. Participants learned how agriculture touches every part of life and discovered the excitement of academic excellence, leadership, technical development and teamwork.

“The program has been a recruitment tool for the college and a safe space for students who didn’t know they had a place within the college, let alone the ag sector,” Farrell said. “We have had 31 students to date who’ve joined UK Martin-Gatton CAFE due to the sense of belonging Jr. MANRRS created for them.”

Lexington’s Tates Creek Middle School Jr. MANNRS was represented by 38 students, the largest participating group. For their advisor and agriculture teacher, Dallas Cooks, the weekend event was a perfect place for students to connect with peers and focus on their future.

“I think agriculture is a place where we can create community,” Cooks said.  “Food brings people together and I think it's important to know agriculture is the space where we can come together and work together to make things happen to sustain our society.

For more information, visit

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.