Penn State alumnus furthers agricultural education abroad despite pandemic | Penn State University – Penn State News

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College PARK, Pa. — After his plans to serve with the Peace Corps have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Manny Catala pivoted shortly to proceed his service to college students overseas. Catala, a 2019 graduate of Penn State’s School of Agricultural Sciences, will practice in Ghana this yr as An factor of the Worldwide Agricultural Education Fellowship Program.

Catala, who graduated with a bachelor’s diploma in agricultural and extension education and a minor in international agritradition (INTAG), Shall be Definitely one of 9 fellows dividing their time between working as agricultural extension brokers, practiceers and 4-H membership advisers.

This method was based in companionship with AgriCorps and is housed On the Norman Borlaug Institute for Worldwide Agritradition and Enchancment at Texas A&M University. Funded by the U.S. Division of Agritradition’s Abroad Agricultural Service, the program practices and helps fellows To Wind up to be agritradition practiceers in Ghana. The communities By which the fellows work are chosen as prime placement places by the program and its in-nation companion, 4-H Ghana.

Catala arrived in Ghana Initially of August and has spent the final month teaching in preparation for The varsity yr, studying the Twi language and connecting with native extension brokers and farmers. The fellows Even have met with their co-practiceers, headgrasps and completely different group figures.

“We’re going to be working To work together our communities To reinformationrce agricultural development And in addition main youth by way of agricultural education and implementing school gardens,” said Catala. He’ll practice at one host school and plans to community withRegionally to see if completely different schools Can be Considering about establishing 4-H packages.

Although he has been out Of school for Simply a few yrs, That might not Catala’s first expertise practiceing overseas. In September 2019, he journeyed to Senegal with the Peace Corps for what was Alleged to be a 27-month stint. He and completely different volunteers have been evacuated As a Outcome of of COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Nonetheless, Catala said the six months he spent in Senegal have been A great basis for his work in Ghana.

He had in depth teaching in extension work and tradition and even found Wolof, In all probability the Commonest language spoken in Senegal. Catala said he furtherly acquired to know the group he would have been working in by way of website assessments.

“We had the framework Of accelerating meals safety and vitamin Regionally,” he defined. “The goals have been developing farmers’ performance To reinformationrce Sorts of crops, and we furtherly needed To enhance group performance to develop meals sustainably.”

Noel Habashy, assistant practiceing professor Inside The school’s Ag Sciences Worldwide office, was Catala’s adviser for the INTAG minor and taught him Inside the course, “INTAG 490: Senior Seminar in Worldwide Agritradition.”

“Manny eagerly seeks out alternatives to develop, study And have work togetherion with people Throughout the globe,” Habashy said. “He’s an enthusiastic, dedicated educator and studyer. He Desires to share his information of agritradition and study Regarding the world round him. Regardless of the cancelation of his alternative with Peace Corps, Manny was tenacious enough To hunt out ancompletely different Technique To work together with people Throughout the globe effectively.”

Tobin Redwine is the fellowship program supervisor and lead studying analyst at Vivayic, which is a studying-options agency and a subawardee on the USDA grant that funded the enterprise.

“Manny brings unimaginable information from his educational expertise at Penn State and his expert works,” Redwine said. “Although he’s solely a month into his fellowship, Manny has already been trusted by The varsity To steer packages and advise a 4-H chapter, and He is working To rearrange a areaal practiceer teaching. These efforts will further influence college students and practiceers in Ghana and assist strengthen the performance Of college-based mostly agricultural education Inside the area.”

Catala said his profession objective is both to work in extension or maintain Inside the classroom, and he hopes his time in Ghana will assist him Work out which. Either method, he plans to pursue a grasp’s diploma in international agritradition development after the fellowship.

As a Outcome of of the pandemic, it was unlikely that Catala would have returned to Senegal, however he famous thOn the fellowship program was A great various. “My work in Senegal was centered on youth And fascinating them in agritradition,” he said. “In Ghana, I’ll be doing comparable issues.”

For undergraduates Considering about practiceing overseas, Catala advises them To revenue from any alternatives that current themselves.

“Attain out and converse to people, Get entangled,” he said. “I don’t have regrets, however I want I’d taken benefit of extra alternatives provided by The school. As an undergraduate, You’ve the most flexibility to journey and expertise completely different traditions.”

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