Published on 04/30/15

UGA celebrates global outreach at CAES Office of Global Programs International Agriculture Reception

By Merritt Melancon

While many of us spend spring planning our summer vacations, dozens of College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences students are set to embark on the adventure of the lifetime — traveling to Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe to learn about agriculture and the environment.

Some of the college’s most well-traveled students, faculty and staff gathered to celebrate agriculture and another year of learning, service and adventure at the college’s annual International Agricultural Day reception earlier this month.

“Everyone in here gets it,” Dean J. Scott Angle told the crowd. “You all understand the importance of international programming. We all work in an industry — whether it’s the environment, health, agriculture — we all are doing something that is going to cause you to go overseas, work overseas and interact with people from other cultures and from countries. You’ve got to be comfortable working in this realm.”

The CAES Office of Global Programs, which hosts International Agriculture Day each spring, recognized the students who are using their time in school to broaden their horizons with travel grants and awards.

CAES food science and technology student Faustine Sonon and horticulture student Alyson Wells told the crowd gathered at the reception how their study abroad experiences have enhanced their collegiate experience and expanded their horizons.

Keynote speaker Prabhu Pingali, director of the Tata-Cornell Agriculture and Nutrition Initiative, shared his program’s strategy for addressing malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies in developing nations. He told students that developing strong agricultural sectors in developing nations is the key to solving health problems caused by undernutrition.

Many students who pursue the Certificate in International Agriculture offered through the CAES Office for Global Programs plan to spend their immediate future strengthening agricultural independence and food security in developing nations.

One of these is Emily Urban, who is pursuing her master’s degree in agricultural and environmental education. She took home the inaugural Kanemasu Global Engagement Award to help fund her travels.

Named for longtime Office of Global Programs Director Ed Kanemasu and his wife, Karen, the award recognizes a student who goes above and beyond to incorporate international learning experiences into their program of study. Students must complete a service-learning project as part of their travels and show how the travel grant will help prepare them for long-term international projects.

Urban plans to use the grant to travel to Brazil during summer 2015 for intensive training in Portuguese. She wants to further improve her Portuguese because of its growing importance in the global market and because it will enable her to work in Mozambique in the summer of 2016.

She plans to conduct an internship there that will allow in her to work on gender inequality and food insecurity issues.

“Gender issues, like all aspects of development, are highly case specific and multifaceted, but this critical concern has been brought to the forefront by many donors and development agencies,” Urban wrote in grant applications. “I am passionate about women’s empowerment as a necessary component in development and am eager to pursue this route in my career as well.

“Coming into Mozambique as an outsider, especially for only few months, I understand the limitations of my position, but this subject is important to me.”

In addition to the Kanemasu Global Engagement Award, the Office of Global Programs presented several other travel grants at the celebration.

Rachel Wigington, who is pursuing her master’s degree in agricultural and environmental education, received the Veloso Wallick Graduate Scholarship, which helps graduate students complete an international internship to fulfill a requirement of the CAES Certificate in International Agriculture.

Doctoral candidates Stephanie L. Bolton, studying plant pathology, Yi Gong, studying food science and technology, and Brad Hounkapati, studying entomology, won the Global Programs Graduate International Travel Awards. These grants are given to graduate students to fund travel for research purposes or to attend conferences.

Erin Burnett, pursuing her bachelor’s degree in agricultural communication, was recognized for receiving the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship to help fund her study abroad in South Africa this summer.

Sungwhan Park, pursuing his bachelor’s degree in food science and technology, won the Undergraduate Global Citizen Award, which recognizes undergraduates who have embraced global citizenship by participating in multiple study abroad and international internship programs.

Winners were also announced for the 2015 Agriculture Abroad Photo Contest, including first place Charlotte Goldman with her photo, “Cash Cows and a Little Goat, Too;” second place Pratima Adhikari with her photo “Farming System” and third place Chongxiao Chen with the photo “Free Range.”

For more information on the CAES Office of Global Programs, visit

Merritt Melancon is a public relations manager with UGA's Terry College of Business and served as a public relations coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension before joining Terry College.

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