Tag Archives: international

Virginia Tech launches Feed the Future Senegal Youth in Agriculture project

Ya Cor Ndione, associate national director; Rick Rudd, head of the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education; Megan Kyles, USAID/Senegal agriculture/nutrition specialist; Tom Archibald, project director and assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education; Kathleen Jamison, professor emeritus and Extension specialist; Bineta Guisse, national director; Fatimata Kane, 4-H specialist; and Jeremy Johnson, state 4-H leader, Virginia 4-H, attend the program launch in Senegal.

Ya Cor Ndione, associate national director; Rick Rudd, head of the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education; Megan Kyles, USAID/Senegal agriculture/nutrition specialist; Tom Archibald, project director and assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education; Kathleen Jamison, professor emeritus and Extension specialist; Bineta Guisse, national director; Fatimata Kane, 4-H specialist; and Jeremy Johnson, state 4-H leader, Virginia 4-H, attend the program launch in Senegal.

Twenty miles east of Senegal’s capital city, hundreds of guests arrived in Senegal’s newest city, Diamniadio, for the grand event.

Youth photographers snapped pictures of the guests before they strolled down the green carpet. In fact, the stars of this event included the entire guest list — the dedicated volunteers, leaders, partners, and participants who support the engagement of Senegal’s youth in the country’s economic growth.

On May 22, the Center for International Research, Education, and Development (CIRED) officially launched its newest project, Feed the Future Senegal Jeunesse en Agriculture (Youth in Agriculture), at the Centre International de Conférences Abdou Diouf in Diamniadio.

Funded by USAID, the five-year, $4 million project will carry on the work of the CIRED-led Education and Research in Agriculture (ERA) project in Senegal by expanding 4-H clubs across the country and institutionalizing positive youth development (PYD) nationally. The project will also work with vocational training institutions to strengthen their connections to private-sector actors and markets, including the piloting of innovative approaches for creating entrepreneurship and income-generating opportunities for youth.

Youth who work with the ERA project hosted the ceremony, which featured adult and youth speakers representing Virginia Tech, USAID/Senegal, and the government of Senegal, as well as Senegalese agricultural institutions and women’s food processing platforms. Guests were also treated to video highlights, commemorative photos, and a “wall of fame,” a display in which participants wrote messages in support of the project. Staff from Virginia Cooperative Extension were on hand to provide support for many of the activities.

“With a focus on the next generation of farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs, Feed the Future Senegal Jeunesse en Agriculture will help build a prosperous future for all Senegalese,” said Kitty Andang, USAID/Senegal deputy mission director, during the ceremony. “Jeunesse en Agriculture will increase youth participation in Senegal’s economic growth by implementing a positive youth development program, already launched as part of the first phase of Feed the Future in Senegal.”

In 2015, the 4-H Senegal PYD program was established in Toubacouta, south of the capital of Dakar, as part of the ERA project. Modeled after the 4-H Youth Development program of the Cooperative Extension Service and land-grant university system in the U.S., the 4-H program in Senegal has already attracted more than 600 members.

“With the launch of Feed the Future Senegal Jeunesse en Agriculture, CIRED redoubles its commitment to helping youth around the world to become thriving, confident, and skilled actors in economic growth,” said Van Crowder, executive director of CIRED, part of Outreach and International Affairs. “Jeunesse en Agriculture is another testament of CIRED’s commitment to link Virginia Tech to the world through innovative research, partnership, and collaboration.”

“This project fits squarely within the priorities of the government of Senegal and of USAID, both of which realize the importance of engaging young people in positive youth development and agricultural entrepreneurship. As a result, this launch event has generated a lot of buzz, and expectations are high,” said Tom Archibald, project director and assistant professor. “We really look forward to achieving meaningful positive impacts in the lives of thousands of young people across Senegal, which can also provide lessons to share with other development projects across West Africa and around the globe.”

Fatou Diouf, a student at the Institute for Advanced Agricultural and Rural Training in Bambey, Senegal, and a member of 4-H Senegal, delivered an impassioned speech during the ceremony. “We are proud to celebrate the launch of the project, because we remain convinced that a project cannot be more useful than one that serves humanity,” Diouf said. “This ambitious program, implemented by passionate and unselfish actors, is a model for the path to development.”

Jeunesse en Agriculture will remain housed under ERA during the project’s first year. Subsequently, the project headquarters will be embedded within the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation’s new offices in Diamniadio as well as in the regional offices of the national PYD program within universities.

– Written by April Raphiou

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Virginia Tech professor and 4-H youth team up to establish Community and 4-H Center in Senegal

4-H Senegal members help bring food to the new center in Santamba.

4-H Senegal members help bring food to the new center in Santamba.

After years of fundraising and collaboration, the Samuel and Eleanor Morris Community and 4-H Center has been established in Santamba, Senegal, an inland village in the southern region, just above the Gambia.

The center, designed to benefit the entire community, will become a place for youth and adults to develop leadership skills and move forward together.

The center was made possible through the work and financial support of many, including the Morris family, the Virginia 4-H program, the USAID Education and Research in Agriculture (ERA) project management team, and Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences professor Ozzie Abaye, whose participation was instrumental. For Abaye, her work with the Santamba community was inspired by her parents and mentors, Samuel and Eleanor Morris, for whom the center was named.

“They dedicated their lives to public service and emphasized education as the tool for successful individual development and community-building,” said Abaye, explaining why her parents were a perfect fit for the naming of the center.

The center, which will serve around 300 people, is designed as a venue for a variety of social and business activities, providing a meeting room and a food preparation space. It will meet the needs of the Santamba community and will be led by a community-elected management team.

The center will also be key to the continued development of 4-H Senegal as a safe space for youth to gather and learn. 4-H Senegal was established to motivate young people to understand agriculture, to be involved in family farms, and to join in with their communities. The program was officially launched two years ago and now has a home in the center.

Katlyn Smith, a Virginia Tech student interested in youth development, saw the potential for a 4-H program early on. Smith traveled to Senegal with Abaye.

“I feel that 4-H is really going to help bring the community together, and I know the youth are going to be so appreciative to have something like 4-H to participate in,” Smith said following her trip to Senegal.

While there, she worked with children, playing games, gardening, and leading community service projects. This work was central to the early stages of 4-H Senegal.

When efforts on the Senegal project began, the center captured the hearts of Virginia 4-H’ers. The 4-H youth selected “Cents for Senegal” as their 2016 State 4-H Congress charity campaign – an effort that would become the group’s highest grossing youth campaign, more than doubling the initial goal. This was largely because of the personal connections many 4-H’ers made with Bineta Guisse, the Senegalese 4-H coordinator and outreach officer who visited Virginia during last year’s 4-H Congress.

Guisse’s visit was so impactful that one 4-H’er was inspired to donate all proceeds from the sale of her 4-H lamb project. Elizabeth Koranek from Madison County donated $2,331 after learning about the Senegalese woman’s hopes for the center.

Virginia 4-H’ers showed their dedication to their peers in Senegal while demonstrating the impact young people can make. The Virginia 4-H funds were used to pour cement, paint the center, and plant trees.

The Samuel and Eleanor Morris Community and 4-H Center is advancing the efforts of USAID/ERA, Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and Virginia 4-H. For the village of Santamba, the center will be a home for education and community.

— Written by Caroline Sutphin

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International policy starts in Blacksburg

Jason Grant, director of the Center for Agricultural Trade

The new Center for Agricultural Trade at Virginia Tech is paying big dividends for the commonwealth and the nation.

Recently the center found itself in the midst of the highly contested international trade relations negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The topic? The heavily protected global dairy market.

The center relentlessly produced up-to-the-minute export models during the negotiations, which were under discussion until the eleventh hour. The models provided clear-cut export scenarios that put the realities of trade tariffs into sharper focus. The International Trade Commission and the Office of the Chief Economist — a political body that reports directly to the president of the United States — used the models.

Part think tank, part classroom, and part idea incubator, the center’s mission is to become the leader in creation and dissemination of information on agricultural policy for legislators, educators, and industry leaders.

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4-H Positive Youth Development in Agriculture program connects and impacts communities in Senegal

Senior Virginia Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development Agent Ruth Wallace (left) stands with a group of children and adults in Senegal. In March of this year Extension and the 4-H Positive Youth  Development in Agriculture Program traveled to the West African nation to scale up programming in the region.

Senior Virginia Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development Agent Ruth Wallace (left) stands with a group of children and adults in Senegal. In March of this year Extension and the 4-H Positive Youth Development in Agriculture Program traveled to the West African nation to scale up programming in the region. Reggie Morris, 4-H Youth Development Extension agent in Alexandria, is pictured in second row, second from right.

When it was time to take nominations for officers of the 4-H Positive Youth Development in Agriculture program in the Senegalese village of Toubacouta, one young woman stood out.

As Aida Nathalie Dieng’s hand shot up almost unconsciously to volunteer for the position of president, she spoke in a determined way about why she wanted to serve as the leader of the club in her village, and toward the end of her speech tears began to run down her cheeks.

“Having the opportunity to be heard is empowering, and even moving,” said Kathleen Jamison, professor emerita and Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist in 4-H  youth development.

Jamison and her team recently took the mission of Virginia Cooperative Extension’s 4-H Positive Youth Development in Agriculture program to the West African nation with the goal of building ties between children, families, and communities to give individuals the ability to live sustainable and meaningful lives that exemplify 4-H mission goals.

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Virginia Tech takes 4-H to children in Senegal

A group of Senegalese students with their leader.

Students from the Ndoumbouji primary school 4-H club stand with their 4-H leader in front of the school garden.

In a Senegalese village, children grow vegetable seedlings and organize money-raising sumo-wrestling events in a 4-H Positive Youth Development program launched in March.

At the Ndoumbouji primary school, where the main focus is gardening, “the teachers told us that every break they have, the students run to the garden,” says Ozzie Abaye, a Virginia Tech professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “The group wants to try to expand the garden project outside of the campus.”

The 4-H program, part of the Virginia Cooperative Extension at Virginia Tech, is designed to motivate “young people to understand agriculture, to become agriculturalists, and to be involved in family farms and their communities,” Abaye says. But the effect spanned generations. When a 4-H club meeting was called, “the entire community turned out. They are very happy that the kids are involved in doing something meaningful.”

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