Returned AgriCorps Fellow: Nathan Glenn
Placement: Booker Washington Institute & Post-Secondary Professional Program, Kakata, Margibi County, Liberia
Class: 3 (2016-17)
What are you up to now? Tell us about your day to day duties.
I am an agricultural missionary working for Hope in the Harvest Mission International. (HITH) I’m stationed in Ganta, Liberia at the Liberia International Christian College (LICC) campus where HITH and LICC worked together to create Agriculture Research Center (ARC). The ARC has three main areas of work: (1) agricultural research farm and and extension education, (2) Farming God’s Way community outreach, and (3) agricultural academics at the bachelors level. In 2018 I served a dual role as a professor in the agriculture academic department as well as a co-manager of the ARC research and demonstration farm. This year I am working solely on the farm. Currently, my day-to-day involves working closely with our animal technicians, serving them bringing forth new ideas and helping them to become more efficient and effective at their jobs. In addition, I am working closely with our bookkeeper and technicians to develop an accounting information system that is efficient, trustworthy, and accountable. Lastly, I am working on ARC projects which involve developing two businesses–chocolate production and livestock feed production. Some days this means working on my computer sending emails and creating business plans. Other days this means getting involved in the daily operations such as operating the feed grinder. Our mission for these projects are to develop broken or nonexistent value chains (egg and chocolate), provide jobs for Liberians while increasing Liberia’s gross national product, and helping LICC to become more self-sustaining.
How did your time as an AgriCorps Fellow influence your career?
If it weren’t for AgriCorps I wouldn’t still be in Liberia and, most importantly, I wouldn’t have developed my level of passion and understanding for regenerative development work. AgriCorps encouraged, demanded, and nurtured a frame of mind on international development which called for critical thought, in-depth analysis, and scholarly argument. Working in international development, and doing it well, requires me to be thoughtful, humble, and always working to change myself. AgriCorps provided me the opportunity to learn and practice that in Liberia, for which I will forever be thankful. Also, AgriCorps developed my entrepreneurial spirit. Living in Kakata, Liberia without the comforts of home or other people from my culture you find out pretty quickly about your motivations and drive. I’ve found a mission for my life, in large part, because of my experience in AgriCorps. In this way, AgriCorps will forever be a part of my life and career.
How did your time as an AgriCorps Fellow shape your views on international development?
Prior to my time in AgriCorps I was like most other people in the world–I knew my home country, and more especially my home state, but my thoughts on the world came from a narrow perspective. My time as an AgriCorps Fellow gave me a new perspective on the world’s economics and poverty. Every single day in Liberia I was confronted with poverty and the behavior of those that are impoverished. I had the ability to study, in real life, the effects of poverty on people’s behavior, the effects of people’s behavior on their poverty level, and compare the behavior of those more privileged to those that are impoverished. I believe that international development and trade are integral in raising up a nation rather than holding them down. Where you see impoverished people, you will also see trade policy and “help” that is keeping them down. Don’t get me wrong, wealthier people, by and large, are not doing this TO the impoverished. No, that’s not what I mean. But somewhere along the way, in this continually evolving world economy, some people get left behind. That’s happening to Liberia. However, that’s not the only factor by any means. While someone is working to create a better economical environment for Liberians through sound international development and trade practices, it is just as important that Liberian entrepreneurs are raised up. Entrepreneurs that are educated, supported, invested in, and nurtured by the environment are changing the world and that’s no different in Liberia. I see evidence of that in my current home, Ganta, Liberia. Ganta was decimated by one of the worst time periods of the war in 2003. According to many locals and other leaders in Liberia that I have heard speak on the subject, the government of Liberia has had little involvement in the rebuilding of Ganta. Despite this, Ganta today has been built back up to more than it was before the war. It is probably the most developed city in Liberia outside of Monrovia, the capital city. It is thriving, and I find myself with a sense of pride for my home town. Through entrepreneurship, Ganta is in line to become the next major city in Liberia. It’s through this that I see hope for the people of Liberia.
What was most memorable to you about your experiences in west Africa/with AgriCorps?
The most memorable part of my experience in AgriCorps was working with the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) Future Farmers Association (FFA) student members. Together I taught them about leadership–I helped them to speak confidently in reciting the FFA Creed, work together to plan chapter activities, and run meetings in an orderly fashion. They taught me about Liberia–they taught about the colloquial language they speak, the food they eat, and the way they farm. Through my work with the BWI FFA I experienced Liberia in the best way possible–through the eyes of my students.