AgNav’s mission is to guide beginning and established agriculturalists living in Maryland through developing and complimenting income streams by “Thinking Outside of the Farm.” AgNav will help you continue your successful farm by adding value, different consumers and alternative income streams by navigating the USDA programs and applications to creating opportunities based on your ideas. Furthermore, we promote the next generation of farmers and ranchers through youth leadership development, farmer-to-farmer mentoring, and international development using mindful leadership.
Creating sustainable operations through mindful leadership, mentor-ship and youth development.
Meet Our Founder
Agricultural Resource Specialist
Desiree Rucker-Ross, Phd
I have over 15 years’ experience in animal health and agriculture. I have a Bachelor’s in Biology from the University of Texas at San Antonio, a Master’s in Animal Science and Reproduction from Prairie View A&M University, and a Doctorate in Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication with an emphasis in wildlife from Texas A&M University (TAMU). I was inducted into the Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society of Agriculture. During my doctorate studies, I earned a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at TAMU.
I began my journey as an agriculturalist as a teenager. I volunteered for veterinary clinics cleaning out kennels and washing dogs. I continued volunteering until I left for the Marine Corps at 19. I spent 3 years in the Marine Corps with an honorable discharge. I decided to make my own way in the growing animal care sector while driving buses for Via Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio Texas. I opened Four Furry Feet Pet Sitting and Dog training.
Four Furry Feet came about in the days before the internet we know now. I spent hours learning marketing skills, developing my product and finding different venues for advertising. I built relationships with other animal care programs around me and we all grew together. I became successful enough that I was able to stop driving buses. I had my business full time and worked in veterinary clinics, the Humane Society and with Bow Meow Bakery in San Antonio. I trained dogs and made dog beds. I still volunteered and had over 50 clients.
I was successful enough to begin The Four Furry Feet Newsletter. This newsletter was mailed out monthly (yes snail mail) to over 100 subscribers and growing until May 2001. That’s when I gave up my business and left for school.
While working on my Bachelors, I worked as a project manager for the University of Texas at San Antonio, worked in a Feline Care veterinary clinic and worked on developing another business helping people pack to move and clean up after their pets. During my Master’s, I spent hours on the farm in vet clinics, in the lab and teaching animal production. I studied and became involved in agriculture policy.I carried this knowledge into my doctoral studies. I continued teaching animal production while completing my doctorate, developing an animal science program for a magnet school. I continued working in agriculture policy by creating a system of leadership training for wildlife practitioners and hunters attitudes and beliefs towards the Texas mountain lion.I was then hired by Prairie View A&M University as an Extension Agent in youth development (4H).
My two years of experience with the youth and adults in 4H, I created a leadership development program for youth. There were ten youth participants in the program that were part of the development of young youth camps in wildlife, health, nutrition and science. We were a part of community events all over the state of Texas. Two of my students were selected to represent 4H in Washington, DC.
In 2014, I was hired with the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture. For the last three years I have been a biological specialist responsible for funding beginning farming and ranchers. I’ve been the program specialist for the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program managing grants awarded to programs that train new farmers between 0 – 10 years in practice. I have formed relationships with the directors of the programs by advising them and managing projects and programs. I have become a respected leader in my profession and would like to pass this knowledge along.