Michael Wade Thomas, also known as Michael “COBRA” Thomas, a retired scientist of 45 years, is the CEO of the Ag Science Conservation Association. The purpose of the nonprofit is, “To increase the diversity of underserved and underrepresented youth of all ethnicities in agriculture, science, and conservation careers, while simultaneously developing outdoor recreational skills through hands on interactive experiences led by professional and community role models.”
Thomas wants to capture the interest of kids and expose them to outdoor agriculture and outdoor careers. One way Thomas is doing this is through his annual summer camp, which will take place on July 12-15. The participants will be able to talk with individuals about ranching, aquatics, taxidermy, and so much more. The participants will also stay the night on a ranch and get the whole outdoor experience.
According to Thomas, one of the reasons kids should be involved in agriculture is because of different opportunities and scholarships that are available to them. One of the programs he mentioned is called Coastal Brigade. They have intensive camps that students can be a part of, but students must be in agricultural classes at their school to be able to apply. Thomas has worked at several of those places and mentioned how most of the kids that participate in those programs are not minorities. This is because many minorities do not want to take agricultural classes within their schools.
When asked his thoughts regarding why more minorities are not involved in agriculture, he felt it was because their interests in sciences starts to dwindle when they enter middle and high school. As a former substitute teacher, who taught many grade levels, he saw their interest decrease firsthand. Thomas reflected on a time he went to Dallas to visit an elementary school for career day, and said his experience was amazing. “The kids went crazy, and everyone wanted to see the scientist,” he said. Thomas made it known that we must expose kids at a young age to agricultural opportunities, but to continue to expose them as they reach higher grade levels as well. There are many careers and a lot of money to be made in agriculture, so we must educate, and expose are youth so they can know all of their options for when they are ready to decide what career they want to pursue.
Thomas has a great love for science and knew he wanted to be a scientist since he was ten years old, and he wants to share that love with others, especially with our youth. For more information about the Ag Science Conservation Association, you can visit their website at https://agsciconservassoc.doodlekit.com/.