Since AgriCorps activities began, we have seen exciting achievements in Agricultural Education in West Africa by expanding our mission to advocate for school-based agricultural education as a means to fight hunger and poverty in developing countries. In June of 2019, AgriCorps hired a new Chief of Party for Liberia to facilitate our broadening of scope. Austin Peterson is a former Peace Corps Volunteer who served as an agriculture volunteer in Senegal from 2009 to 2012. He has a master’s degree in International Agricultural Development from University of California, Davis and has worked with government and local NGOs in Liberia since 2016. Austin now works closely with Umaru Sheriff, the National Executive Director of 4-H Liberia to strengthen 4-H’s agricultural education program and to build collaboration between major players within the school-based Agricultural Education space in Liberia.
Most recently, Sheriff and Austin have held several meetings aimed at developing co-constructive collaboration with partners such as the Liberian Ministry of Education, the University of Liberia School of Agricultural Education, and the Central Agricultural Research Institute in Bong County, Liberia. Most excitingly, we have been in discussion with CARI for them to provide AgriCorps supported training to 4-H Liberia’s Field Officers, and to teachers and parents involved in Parent Teacher Associations. The trainings – co-developed and co-facilitated by AgriCorps – will focus on skills needed for successful program implementation, as well as best practices within vegetable production, roots and tubers production, and post-harvest loss prevention. The specific technologies will be selected by identifying methods with low economic barriers to adoption, instead focusing on techniques that boost yields and improve product quality without creating additional financial hardship for the adopter. By focusing work at the middle school level, the intracurricular agricultural education program disseminates agricultural innovation to small-holder farmers through trusted members of the community.