Celebrating Black History Month: Auburn Alumni Who Are Making Strides in Ag


starting as an Assistant Professor of Entomology this Fall at Ohio State University.In coordination with Auburn University’s Office of Inclusion and Diversity (OID), Auburn Agriculture is taking the month of February to recognize the past, present and future contributions made by the university’s Black students, faculty and staff. Read the accomplishments made by some of our own alumni who all work to better the world of agriculture below.

Auburn-Agriculture-Abra-Lee-IconAbra Lee: Field of Work – Horticulture

Abra Lee graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science in horticulture. After graduating, she worked as an arborist for the City of Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation. From there, she went on to work for entities such as the Atlanta International Airport as a landscape manager and the George Bush Intercontinental Airport as the landscape superintendent. In 2019, she was selected to be a Longwood Fellow — a competitive program in the gardening world that strives to develop leadership and other related skills in business and horticulture.

Additionally, Lee started her own business in 2014 called Conquer the Soil, in which she uses storytelling to create interest in horticulture, build community, and engage new and diverse audiences. She is also the author of the newly released  Conquer the Soil: Black America and the Untold Stories of Our Country’s Gardeners, a book written to shed light on the unknown stories of accomplished Black men and women with careers in the plant world. Today, Lee works as a public speaker and author, always striving to educate others on horticulture.


Auburn-Agriculture-Shaina-Craige-IconDr. Shaina Z. Craige: Field of Work – Animal Sciences

While not an alumna of the College of Agriculture, Dr. Shaina Z. Craige is putting her background in animal sciences to work as a livestock advisor for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance.

Craige earned her bachelor’s degree in agricultural science from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, a Master of Public Health from the University of Minnesota, and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. While studying at Auburn, she helped start and lead Veterinarians as One In Culture and Empowerment. (VOICE), an organization that aims to increase awareness of, respect for, and sensitivity to diversity among all individuals in veterinary medicine. In 2016, she was named a Merial Fellowship Scholar studying niacin’s effects on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. When the program ended, Craige presented her findings as a platform presenter at the Merck Merial Symposium.

After Auburn, she moved to Houston first as an associate veterinarian at the Houston Veterinary Hospital and later as a relief veterinarian to multiple animal hospitals in the Houston area. In 2020, Craige was brought on at USAID as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow before becoming a livestock advisor. Craige was recently named a 2023 Black Alumni Award recipient for her achievements in and out of her field.


Auburn-Agriculture-Nadia-Sigler-IconNadia Sigler: Field of Work – Agricultural Communications

Nadia Sigler graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and business. While at Auburn, Sigler participated in many organizations, including the College of Agriculture’s Diversity Committee, which aims to create a diverse, inclusive, and overall welcoming environment for all College of Ag students and faculty. She was in the Agriculture Economics Club, Empower Campus ministries, and the Ag Alumni Program. Sigler also served as an Auburn Ag Peer Mentor. Peer Mentors help College of Agriculture undergraduate students with advising, internships and career opportunities. Sigler received a master’s degree in management and organizational leadership in 2021.

After graduation, Sigler worked as an ag marketing specialist for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and still does today. Here, she provides technology assistance to stakeholders, industry members and government agencies on marketing practices and trends for agriculture. In 2023, Sigler received a Black Alumni Award for her achievements in her personal and professional life.


Auburn-Agriculture-Seun-Oladipupo-Icon-2024Seun Oladipupo: Field of Work – Entomology

Now a postdoctoral research associate at Yale School of Medicine, Seun Oladipupo earned his Ph.D. from the College of Agriculture’s Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology at Auburn University. According to Entomology and Plant Pathology Chair David Held, Oladipupo was the most decorated graduate student the department ever had. He captained the national winning Entomology Games team, and he was president of the F.S. Arant Entomology Club, vice president of the African Students’ Association, and treasurer of the Graduate Student Council. And on every team, committee or association he joined, Oladipupo made a difference.

A native of Efon Alaaye, Nigeria, Oladipupo completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Federal University of Technology in Akure, Nigeria. He will start work as an Assistant Professor of Entomology this Fall at the Ohio State University.


Auburn-Agriculture-Jonathan-Hampton-IconJohnathan Hampton: Field of  Work – Horticulture

One of the most decorated alumni to graduate from the Department of Horticulture, Johnathan Hampton is now a graduate research assistant and landscape architecture graduate candidate at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Hampton is a recipient of more than 30 scholarships and awards, including a Landscape Architecture Foundation 2023 Ignite Finalist; a 2023 scholarship recipient from the Center for Empowerment, Development, and Growth in Education; recipient of the 2023 Auburn University President’s Award and the university’s W. James Samford Jr. Foundation Award; a 2022 recipient of the Mugget Scholarship issued by the Horticulture Research Institute; the Richard Foster Scholarship issued by GIE Media; the Doesburg Scholarship issued by the National Collegiate Landscape Competition; and a number of endowed scholarships from Auburn University and entities associated with the university.


This announcement was drafted and created with the assistance of Kristen Bowman, Cheri Ayers Cannon, and Emma Welch.


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Feb 8, 2024 | Diversity, News

<p><a href="https://agriculture.auburn.edu/author/cmc0302auburn-edu/" target="_self">Cheri Ayers Cannon</a></p>

Cheri Ayers Cannon

Cheri Ayers Cannon is the web content and social media specialist with the College of Agriculture. She obtained her Master of Mass Communications from Louisiana State University and her Bachelor's degree in Public Relations from the University of Southern Mississippi. Cheri’s multifaceted passions as a creative include design, copyediting, the Oxford comma, and coffee.

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