Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim, associate professor of agriculture economics, (far left) and Dr. Brou Kouakou, FVSU associate professor of animal science, (far right) accompany five FVSU agriculture students at Aquafinca, a company in Honduras that cultivates fish for export to the U.S. and Central America. The students toured the facility during a 2015 study abroad trip to Honduras.
Visiting a foreign country, learning about a new culture and tasting different types of cuisine are the stories eight Fort Valley State University students told recently in the Stallworth Biotechnology Building Auditorium.
Agriculture economics majors Robyn Amie, Kiamata Dukes, Vontorius Richard, Emanuel Ryan, and animal science major Janay Scott shared their June 2015 study abroad experience in Honduras.
In addition, agriculture economics majors Amber Brown, Brian Cornish and Raymee Johnson shared their 14-day June 2015 study abroad experience in China. Faculty, staff and students listened and asked questions as each student presented.
"It was amazing. I got to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World," said Brian Cornish, a junior agriculture economics major from Warner Robins, Ga. During his travels, he highlighted his visit to the Great Wall of China, Pearl Palace and the Shanghai Museum. The 20-year-old also mentioned visiting universities in China where he studied Chinese history and Chinese agriculture policies.
Janay Scott, a senior animal science major, said she has always wanted to venture abroad and was grateful for the opportunity to travel to Honduras. "Learning other people's culture creates a different mentality," Scott said. "I'd never been to a Spanish speaking country," said the Stockbridge native.
The students travel to Honduras is funded through an 1890 Capacity Grant called, "U.S. Honduras Partnerships to Strengthen Faculty and Students Global Agricultural Research Education and Cultural Experiences." Dr. Brou Kouakou, an FVSU associate professor of animal science and Dr Mohammed Ibrahim, a FVSU associate professor of agriculture economics, served as principal investigators for the $299,550 grant.
For the next two years, these funds will aid Kouakou and agriculture sciences faculty in traveling with eight FVSU undergraduate students to Honduras for 28-day study abroad experiences. In addition, two undergraduate students will come to FVSU from Honduras and conduct their research at FVSU to satisfy their bachelor's degree requirements. This will take place annually until 2017. Funding will pay for airfare, lodging and food expenses.
Moreover, the students travel to China is funded through an externally funded project called, "Multicultural Scholars in Agricultural Economics." Dr. Mack Nelson, an FVSU professor of agriculture economics is the project director. "The project was developed in response to the Secretary of Agriculture's recognition of a declining pool of highly qualified applicants, particularly from minority populations, to fill positions in the agricultural sector," Nelson said.
He said studying abroad is a part of experiential learning. Students participating in the Multicultural Scholars in Agriculture Program will have intimate experiences with the broad structure of entities promoting agriculture, funding agriculture and developing and disseminating advances to make the U.S. more competitive and efficient in the use of limited resources.
Furthermore, Nelson said the students who traveled to China would also have additional experiential experiences in 2016 to include work with the Georgia Department of Agriculture, the AG Georgia Farm Credit, and the Georgia Rural Development along with experiences at research institutions.
"I am pleased that several Ag faculty members are going above and beyond to create these study abroad opportunities for our students," said Dr. Govind Kannan, dean of the College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology. "We are currently exploring experiential learning opportunities in South Africa and Botswana for our veterinary technology students, and I strongly believe these experiences will better prepare our graduates to compete in today's global economy," Kannan said.
For more information about study abroad programs in the College of Agriculture, visit ag.fvsu.edu or call Kannan at (478) 825-6322.