As a Sustainable Agriculture volunteer I live and work in a small agrarian village in rural West Africa. My main role as an agricultural extension agent is to encourage and train subsistence farmers to make best-practices decisions in their fields, gardens, and orchards. My main focus, and the topic of my MPS project paper, is an assessment of local knowledge of rice cropping systems and coordination of farmer-centered research on the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). My side projects include work in public health, and the education and empowerment of young women. All of these projects contribute to achieving my ultimate goal of service to an "under-served" population and attempting to improve quality of life for my host community.
Previous to my studies at Cornell, my knowledge of plant production and agriculture was of organic community vegetable gardening in urban settings. My course work at Cornell exposed me to large-scale agriculture, particularly in developing countries, which has been invaluable to my work in Peace Corps. Cornell also prepared me for the Peace Corps because of the people I met there who shared their Peace Corps stories and experiences. That exposure gave me a realistic picture of what my Peace Corps life would be like, and inspired and informed my subsequent projects.
Living and working in Senegal has shaped my world-view and has dramatically informed my long-term career and personal goals. The knowledge and connections I established at Cornell before beginning my service increased the potential impact of my work by training me to think like a community organizer and agricultural extension agent. I hope to grow this experience into a long and meaningful career in agricultural development. It will be richer for having spent time as a PCV.