Published on 04/05/18

Gender, agriculture and cultural literacy converge at International Agriculture Day Lecture and Reception

By Merritt Melancon

University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) students and faculty gathered Monday to celebrate their commitment to international cooperation and scholarship and to discuss current issues in food security.

This was the college’s eighth annual International Agriculture Day Lecture and Reception. The event has become a time to reflect on the international nature of agriculture and the importance of agricultural development in building a safer, healthier world.

“Perhaps the single greatest challenge that these students will face is feeding a global population that is expected to exceed 9 billion people in a relatively short period of time,” said CAES Dean and Director Sam Pardue. “We need to do this while maintaining and conserving our natural resources. We aim to provide them with the very best education and opportunities to prepare them to meet that challenge and conquer it.

“Today we focus our attention on one of the major hurdles: understanding other cultures and how we need to work together to build a more food-secure world.”

The gender gap is a culturally based agricultural challenge that must be overcome, said keynote speaker Helga Recke, a Visiting Fellow in Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Advancing Women in Agriculture through Research and Education (AWARE) program.

Feeding the world’s growing population will only be possible if all farmers, including the nearly 50 percent of farmers who are women, are empowered to produce their best crops.

Lack of credit, lack of education and cultural subordination keep female farmers around the world producing about 20 to 30 percent less than their male counterparts. This disparity must be overcome to provide worldwide food security.

Recke has spent her career on the forefront of global agricultural development, studying the ways that gender impacts agricultural development and supporting education and professional development for female agricultural scientists across the developing world.

In her lecture, “Efforts to Narrow the Gender Gap in Agriculture: One Woman’s Journey,” Recke discussed how traditional and transitional gender roles affect agricultural development and scientific progress in the developing world.

“Gender in agriculture is not just a hobby horse,” Recke said. “It has real consequences if you pay attention.”

Agricultural development efforts that ignore the way women use agricultural technologies or the division of labor between women and men on farms are bound to fail.

As part of the effort to create agricultural technologies responsive to the needs of both female and male farmers, Recke has spent two decades supporting leadership roles for female scientists and extension specialists in developing countries and around the world.

Having a more diverse group of scientists who are developing technologies will lead to a more diverse set of solutions for farmers, she said. These are the types of solutions that students and faculty members gathered at Monday’s event will develop in the coming century.

The CAES Office of Global Programs, which hosts the International Agriculture Day Lecture and Reception each spring, honored some of the college’s most globally minded students with travel grants, scholarships and awards at the event. Students who will graduate this year with the college’s International Agriculture Certificate were also recognized.

Kirsten Allen, a senior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences and a minor in plant biology and a certificate recipient, told the crowd how her internship in Piacenza, Italy, broadened her worldview and inspired her to work internationally.

Other students received the certificate:

  • Jeffrey Bowden, bachelor’s degree in applied biotechnology and an internship in Beauvais and Frausseilles, France
  • Nicole Encardes, bachelor’s degree in horticulture and an internship in Pamplona, Spain
  • Lori Hanna, bachelor’s degree in environmental health, master’s degree in public health and an internship in Havana, Cuba
  • Alexandria Talley, bachelor’s degree in avian biology and an internship in Khon Kaen, Thailand
  • Elizabeth Umanah, bachelor’s degree in applied biotechnology and an internship in Thiès, Senegal

International Agriculture Certificate students expand their global perspectives by participating in internationally focused coursework, language study and a hands-on international internship aligned with their academic and career goals.

Students who earned other internationally focused awards were recognized:

Graduate International Travel Awards 

These awards will fund an international activity that supports each student’s interest in international collaboration and global issues. The award covers round-trip airfare to an international conference or research site.

  • Cristiano Bortoluzzi, doctoral candidate in poultry science
  • June Brawner, master’s degree student in crop and soil sciences and doctoral student in anthropology
  • Fernanda Castro, doctoral student in poultry science
  • Kelsey Coffman, doctoral candidate in entomology
  • Carson Dann, master’s degree student in crop and soil sciences
  • Zhongyuan Liu, doctoral student agricultural and applied economics
  • Jeffrey Standish, doctoral candidate in plant pathology
  • Ana Villegas-Gamble, doctoral student in poultry science

Kanemasu Global Engagement Award

This award recognizes a student who goes above and beyond in internationalizing his/her academic program at UGA.

  • Elizabeth Umanah, bachelor’s degree in applied biotechnology

Broder-Ackermann Global Citizen Award

This award recognizes a CAES undergraduate student who has embraced global citizenship through participation, promotion and leadership of international initiatives during his/her collegiate career.

  • Stacie Evans, bachelor’s degree student in biological science

Global Food Security International Travel Scholarship

Hiram Larew, adjunct professor in the CAES Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication and a 1975 CAES horticulture graduate, has worked his whole career to end food insecurity around the world.

This year he established the Global Food Security International Travel Scholarship to support CAES undergraduate or graduate students who participate in an international education activity focused on the global community and food insecurity.

  • Grant Freeman, bachelor’s degree student in biological science

Terence J. Centner International Scholarship

CAES Professor Terence Centner has studied the intersection of environmental policies and outcomes in agricultural and natural resource conservation settings for 30 years. This year, as part of his commitment to international scholarship and education, he established the Terence J. Centner International Scholarship.

The scholarship will support a CAES undergraduate student who participates in a semesterlong exchange program at a UGA partner university in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe or South America.

  • Mallory Warren, bachelor’s degree student in environmental economics

Wen Williams International Travel Scholarship

Over the three decades he spent in Conner Hall, Wen Williams, retired CAES professor of agricultural and applied economics and associate dean and director for academic affairs, impacted the lives of thousands of students.

This year, in support of his mission to broaden the horizons of CAES students, he established the Wen Williams International Travel Endowment Fund, which supports a CAES undergraduate student participating in one of the college’s study abroad, international internship or exchange programs.

  • Kendall Sewell, bachelor’s degree student in environmental economics and management

Agriculture Abroad Photo Contest

The Agriculture Abroad Photo Contest is open to all CAES students. The contest encourages them to share images of agriculture from around the world.

  • First place went to Ellen Hardin for the photo, “Unconventional Diet.”
  • Second place went to Chandler Mulvaney for the photo, “Dancing for Farmers.”
  • Third place went to Zane Tacket for the photo, “Victor.”

To see photos from the event, including contest entries, visit

For more information about the Office of Global Programs, visit

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

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