CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University students brought home the top award from this year's national conference of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) in Indianapolis.

Although the OSU chapter had previously won the regional award, this was their first time capturing the national Chapter of the Year Award, which came with a $1,000 prize.

In the competition, students from MANRRS chapters from around the United States submitted written reports and gave 30-minute presentations detailing the accomplishments of their chapter. Among the accomplishments of OSU's MANRRS group was the annual "Wardrobe Makeover." This event, a partnership with Campbell's Cleaners and other student groups on campus, provides clean, second-hand business clothes at very low cost for students who will be facing job interviews and entering the business work force.

MANRRS is a national organization that involves students from grade school to graduate school in programs related to agriculture and natural resources. It reaches out to groups such as ethnic minorities, international students, and urban residents who may not have access to similar rural programs, according to faculty adviser Wanda Crannell.

"If I had to describe MANRRS in one word, it would be 'mentoring,'" Crannell said.

For example, the OSU chapter works with students at Rosemary Anderson High School in Portland, which serves at-risk youths. The opportunity to mentor younger students was important to MANNRS student Jeehye Lee, a recent graduate in bioresource research and international studies, who plans to become a teacher.

"If I didn't have those mentoring experiences, I'd have a hard time getting a job working with youth, because my major is not education," she said.

Mentoring means leadership as well. After serving as the undergraduate vice president for the MANNRS region, Lee mentored Vananh Nguyen for the same position. This year, under Nguyen's tutelage, the leadership baton passed to Laura Magaña.

"It is a very diverse student organization," Crannell said. "Working together in a group where everybody's majors are different, and everybody's backgrounds are different, and accomplishing so much is certainly no small achievement."

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Wanda Crannell, 541-737-2999