Will Hehemann | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences
Three sophomore students of agriculture at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff are spending a month in the South American country of Guyana, learning about the country’s agricultural practices, history and culture. Over the course of the program, Imani Coleman, an agronomy major, LaTaylor Rembert, an agriculture business major, and Laura Wright, an animal Science major, are also getting the chance to contribute to work on one of UAPB’s primary international Extension projects.
“The program abroad intends to help the students learn about life in a foreign country and give them an understanding of Guyana’s history and all aspects of its culture,” Kacy Wright, instructor/research associate for the Department of Agriculture and coordinator for the Guyana program, said. “One of the program’s most important objectives is to involve the students in UAPB’s project to increase the availability of high-quality sweet potato planting materials to limited-resource farmers in Guyana through the establishment of a virus-indexing laboratory.”
Prior to their departure from the U.S., the students were briefed on the project by representatives of the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute in Guyana, UAPB’s primary partner institution in the project. In Guyana, the students have since had the opportunity to learn firsthand about how UAPB is breeding sweet potato plants with better resistance to common diseases and pests, and then distributing these resilient lines to small-scale farmers to help expand their operations and income.
The students’ agenda has included site visits to various agricultural agencies in Guyana including the Ministry of Agriculture, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. Throughout the program, they have been required to collect information that pertains to their specific majors in order to give presentations upon the program’s conclusion.
The students have also taken time to participate in community service activities. During visits to the St. John Bosco Orphanage for Boys and the Hauraruni Girl’s Home, they played games and had motivational discussions with the youth residents. They also took tours of the facilities and learned about the residents’ efforts in community gardening.