UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Inclusiveness, visibility and community are the main goals of a new club for students in the LGBTQ community and the College of Agricultural Sciences.
It’s called “Students for Cultivating Change,” and is now officially recognized by Penn State. It is the first student ambassador program to pair with the Cultivating Change Foundation, a national nonprofit headquartered in California, which is focused on supporting and uplifting members of the LGBTQ community who are involved in the agricultural sciences.
The club’s mission is to provide a safe, inclusive network for LGBTQ students interested in agricultural sciences. It is centered on education, community and increasing awareness.
Kurtis Miller, a junior animal science major, is president of the club. “I felt the LGBTQ community wasn’t as strongly represented in agriculture as it was in other disciplines such as business or STEM," he explained. "This club creates that space for LGBTQ students in the College of Agricultural Sciences.” He added that the club participates in events to show that the LGBTQ community is a strong, positive force, and will continue to promote its visibility in the college.
The 30-member club has been making its presence known on campus since it was founded in the fall 2016 semester. This January, members had a Random Act of Kindness Day, where they handed out cookies and discussed their mission. They also hosted a free continental breakfast for students, faculty and staff within the College of Agricultural Sciences.
“It was really good, not only to get our name out as an organization, but to give other students a positive view of our community,” Miller said.
In March, the club participated in Penn State Pride Week to address marginalization of the LGBTQ community in certain career fields. On April 12, members will have a booth at the college's Ag Day event, where they will discuss the ideas of intersectionality and identity in agriculture. The members want to inform people about the different genders, sexualities and ethnicities of people who study and work in agricultural fields.
“My favorite part of the club is the strong friendships I made with the other officers," Miller said. “We did most of the work to get the club started, and having that strong relationship with the rest of the officer team helped our success. I’m excited to see how it grows." As the club gains new members, it will be organized into committees for those who want to be more involved in different areas, such as fundraising and event planning.
The club meets twice monthly, from 7 to 8 p.m. every first and third Tuesday, in 214 Ferguson Building. Its Instagram is cultivating_psu. For more information, contact club adviser Jenneth Layaou at email@example.com.