Last month, I had the opportunity to see the work our 4-H Africa partners are doing in Ethiopia. I was there to research their program for a possible AgriCorps expansion. In one rural community, I met Girum, a young man who had only been a 4-H member for one year. I asked him what he wanted to be when he got older. “I want to be a farmer,” he said. “Really?” I asked. “Yes, I want to be a farmer. 4-H has taught me how to raise two sheep, fatten them, sell them, and make enough money to buy four sheep next year.” I smiled because this young man has learned the first step to free him from poverty. Not only do 4-H and Future Farmer programs teach agriculture skills, but they also teach young people how to create wealth, that is, how to make something from nothing. Pretty exciting stuff!
Chief John Romo
On June 5, AgriCorps Member John Romo, became “Nana Appiah Romo” as the newly installed chief of development for Adarkwa. It was a very moving and special moment for the AgriCorps and 4-H Ghana family. Romo teaches agriculture and serves as 4-H Advisor to fifty students at the local junior high school and uses the school farm to demonstrate sustainable agricultural practices. He was pivotal in starting a 1,500-seedling cocoa, moringa, and oil palm nursery, through the 4-H Club. Through this connection, young people and their families not only have access to improved agricultural technologies to increase yields, but they also learn life skills to become healthy, critical-thinking farmers and democratic citizens. “We understand that Sir John cannot stay with us forever,” explained an elder of Adarkwa, “but we have felt his impact over the past few months, and we want to continue to feel his impact even if he is in America.”
New AgriCorps Team Member, Ann Leslie Bluntzer, PhD
Ann has been an advocate for young people empowering themselves and their communities through agriculture education since she joined 4-H and FFA as a youngster. She is thrilled to join the team and is looking forward to combining this lifelong passion with her 18+ years of nonprofit work experience around the globe to help grow and support the mission of AgriCorps. Ann holds a Master of Education and Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Development from Texas A&M University, and a PhD in Higher Education Administration and Organizational Development from University of South Carolina. She also continues to teach international business and nonprofit management courses at Texas Christian University, in Fort Worth, TX, where she lives with her husband Sam, and two children, Thomas and Eliza.
Update from the Field – Year 1 Wrap Up
The 2014/15 AgriCorps just returned to the United States on Saturday, June 20, after completing an amazing year of significant impact. Most recently, Corps Members held 4-H Officer Leadership Camps across the Eastern Region for over 100 club officers with workshops on horticulture, goal setting, public speaking, and team building. To create lasting impact, the Corps Members hosted a three-day long Experiential Teaching Institute for twenty, hand-selected agriculture teachers and 4-H Club Advisors. While some old habits are hard to break, Corps Members have reported seeing teachers implement many new techniques in the classroom. Corps Members even created the 4-H Ghana Opening Ceremonies, modeled after the National FFA Organization but adapted to local traditions and symbols (for instance, the Advisor is stationed by the walking stick and Treasurer by the golden cocoa pod). It has been a great year with a great Corps. They will be missed. Job well done, and welcome home!