Returned AgriCorps Fellow: Lyndee Lum
Placement: Akro Secondary Technical School, Odumase (Krobo), Eastern Region, Ghana
Class: 2 (2015-2016)
What are you up to now? Tell us about your day-to-day duties.
I am currently an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Berthoud High School in Colorado. I teach around 75 students in classes that span 9th through 12th grade. We focus heavily on plant science and animal science pathways and we’re working to establish an outdoor growing space on campus. Some of my favorite lessons to teach include soil testing, food fortification and livestock nutrition. We host local FFA events every month and travel to state and national FFA events throughout the year. I stay incredibly busy during the school year, but I absolutely love what I do!
How did your time as an AgriCorps Fellow influence the next step in your career?
It was during my time as an AgriCorps Fellow that I fell in love with teaching. Connecting with my students and creating lessons at AkroSec Tech in Odumase gave me so much energy and purpose. When I returned home from Ghana, I got my alternative teaching license, so that I could become an ag teacher (my degree is in Soil & Crop Science). I would say that AgriCorps influenced my career in a very direct way.
How did your time as an AgriCorps Fellow influence your opinion on international development?
I feel that I ended my time as a Fellow with a much greater understanding of how large, diverse and complicated our world is. In other words, I knew more about how much I didn’t know. (haha) International development takes time – I get that now. Sometimes, quick action taken with the best of intentions, ends up causing more harm than help in the long run. Understanding the cultures and processes of a particular area is vital and doesn’t happen quickly.
What was most memorable to you about your experiences in West Africa/AgriCorps?
Time with my students, especially my 4-H officers, will always make up my fondest memories of Ghana. I remember teaching them goofy group activities that resulted in competitive ridiculousness and laughter. I remember discussing life while riding a trotro on our way to a leadership conference. And I remember how surprised and proud their faces looked when I expressed how much I believed in them, as young people, to be the future of agriculture in their country. Not trying to sound cheesy, here, but seriously… I think about those faces all the time.
I must also mention how meaningful the relationships I developed with other AgriCorps Fellows have been in my life. We witnessed each other growing tremendously during our year in Ghana and our friendships have remained important, even after returning home. Just last year, I officiated the wedding of two of my AgriCorps classmates. I anticipate that my fellow Fellows will continue to be some of my dearest friends for the rest of my life.
What was your favorite place you visited in Ghana?
There’s no way I can pick just one, so I’ll give you my quick top three. 1) There is a beautiful farm, belonging to a delightful man named William Dynamic, located at the top of a mountain overlooking Koforidua. I will never forget that view. 2) Dr. Kofi Boa runs a Center for No-Till Agriculture outside of Kumasi and, when we toured the center, the soil nerd inside of me went crazy! Dr. Boa is doing some truly inspiring work. 3) I was able to easily access the Volta River from where I lived, so I would visit it often. The water was peaceful and the tropical plants and birds living there were stunning.
Kelewele (a spicy sweet fried plantain snack, served with roasted groundnuts).