How I Spent My Summer Vacation
|Sheala Konecsni (middle, front) and fellow Term Abroad students and friends pose for a photograph at Ethiopia's Blue Nile Falls|
Agricultural development project sparks trip to
Monday, September 11, 2006
(>Fifth in a Series)
By David Hutton
For The StarPhoenix
Touring the vast, rolling valleys of
"When most people think of
"I like travelling and seeing different places, so this was a perfect opportunity to combine my love for travelling with my love for soil," says Konecsni.
This year's class consisted of six undergraduate soil science students and one soil microbiology graduate student, Morgan Jaster, who spent part of his time in
Their trip was part of a five-year Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)-funded project aimed at strengthening the Awassa college by introducing a graduate research program and helping Ethiopia establish more sustainable food production.
Deforestation, erosion and population density have caused major damage to Ethiopian soil, leaving the prospects for agriculture and better food production bleak.
The hope is that training more graduate students to do hands-on research on the soil and extending this knowledge to the farmers will help
The project is led by soil science Prof. Mike Grevers, who made his sixth visit to the country this summer and builds on previous work done by the U of S soil science department focused on dryland agriculture in the
In only its second year, the program is already starting to make inroads. This summer, the Awassa college graduated its first four master's of science students. The end goal is for U of S professors to train and graduate 25 Awassa students by 2009.
"The funds to do research in
"We're really making a difference there. In
"I want to work in international development," says Konecsni. "So visiting the NGOs and seeing how they work in a developing country was very interesting. Are they doing anything helpful? Are they doing what they set out to do?" Grevers hopes the experience the undergraduate students gained in
This year's students are responsible for written and oral reports on their experience in
They will also present talks about their experiences on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. in the college of agriculture, Room 2E25. The presentation is open to the public.
"The biggest thing," says Grevers, "is to widen the horizons of students from both countries."
(This article is part of a partnership initiative between The StarPhoenix and
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