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Ransom Receives President's Volunteer Service Award

In May, NDSU Extension Service cereal crops agronomist and Department of Plant Sciences professor Joel Ransom received the prestigious President’s Volunteer Service Award for work in Senegal, Africa. He provided more than 100 hours of work with Winrock International’s U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program.
 
 

June 13, 2017

In May, NDSU Extension Service cereal crops agronomist and Department of Plant Sciences professor Joel Ransom received the prestigious President’s Volunteer Service Award for work in Senegal, Africa. He provided more than 100 hours of work with Winrock International’s U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program.

Ransom’s work was to assist and instruct several women’s groups in and around the northern Senegal city of St. Louis to process millet and corn to make a staple food, couscous.  A local non-government organization called CONCEPT supports and administers these women’s groups. Ransom did this work in September 2016.

Ransom has previously worked with the USAID F2F program in Senegal, Kenya, Ethiopia and Ukraine, where he provided information and education on agriculture production issues such as weed control, equipment operation, processing, starting farmer cooperatives and specialty crop production. Besides Winrock International, he has worked with Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS). Winrock International, CNFA and CRS are three of the seven implementing partners for Farmer-to-Farmer programs. 

Implementing partners are organizations who provide funding and logistical support through the USAID for these partner-to-partner projects. Volunteers from the implementing group work with local farmers, producer groups, rural businesses and service providers to enhance and improve local farming operations.

F2F projects are currently ongoing in 20 different countries in Europe, Central Asia, the Caucasus, West Africa, Southern Africa, East Africa, Middle East Africa and the Caribbean. Current opportunities in these locations include improving supply chain infrastructure, marketing and production of new and traditional crops, mentoring youth for agriculture careers, women’s empowerment, setting up farm service centers, and developing agriculture educational institutions.

F2F projects are successful because local needs are prioritized, local volunteers are well trained and invested in the project, person-to-person connections are created that support the project long past its completion, volunteers have high levels of technical expertise and knowledge, and specific projects are aligned with broader improvement programs.

Ransom thinks these programs are great training grounds for those who work in agriculture and are interested in international work. “I would encourage students interested in agriculture degrees and international work to check out the opportunities with F2F,” he said.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award was launched in 2003 by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation to recognize exemplary volunteer service. The award is an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service and is administered by Points of Light. To read more, see https://www.presidentialserviceawards.gov/.

To read more about USAID and F2F, see http://farmer-to-farmer.org/work-us/usaid.

Author: Karen Hertsgaard, 701-231-5384,
Editor: Kamie Beeson, 701-231-7123,

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