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Winrock International

Volunteer Post

November volunteer of the month

Happy Thanksgiving! This year, like every year, we are thankful for our wonderful volunteers, including our November Volunteer of the Month, Julie Longland.

Our F2F staff are impressed with the extra time that Julie dedicated before and during her assignment, the variety of creative teaching methods that she used during her trainings, and her ongoing support for the F2F Program.

In partnership with the USAID-funded Knowledge-based Integrated Sustainable Agriculture Nutrient Project, Julie’s F2F assignment focused on providing pesticide management training to pesticide entrepreneurs (suppliers, retailers, executive members, agrovets, and government officials) in five locations throughout Nepal. As a graduate of Purdue University and North Carolina State University (NSCU) — two land-grant universities with strong extension programs, Julie saw volunteering as a natural expansion of that mission and was always interested in giving back, specifically in agricultural development. Julie first learned of the Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program through one of her professors at NCSU and was immediately interested in volunteering when the opportunity arose.

During her assignment, Julie worked with the Pesticide Entrepreneur’s Association Nepal (PEAN), a nonprofit organization aimed at increasing agricultural production through the judicious use of pesticides. In working with PEAN, Julie explained that “it is an easy criticism for people to say that retailers only are interested in making money, but PEAN clearly shows that they care about agro-vets, their families, farmers, and Nepal.”

Julie put a lot of effort into preparing for the trainings, incorporating group discussions, answer and question sessions, quizzes, games, and audio/visual materials.

Julie in action during one of her trainings

In addition to her full training program in the five locations, she also worked overtime to tailor the trainings to each group and prepared additional sessions on special topics for each group based on needs they identified during the first day of the training. Julie’s work in preparing these dynamic sessions will enhance the capacity of agrovets to deliver appropriate guidance on pesticide selection and safe use practices to farmers, and will strengthen their knowledge on best practices to minimize the risk of exposure when selling or handling pesticides.

At the end of her trip, Julie reflected, “A former manager of mine had been to Nepal as a Fulbright Scholar, and he maintained his enthusiasm for the country from grad school through to his recent visit for a different Farmer-to-Farmer assignment. I am happy to report I share his good opinion of Nepal. I will definitely have to come back some day.” 

Professionally, Julie enjoys volunteering because it challenges her as a technical expert to explain scientific concepts and processes to diverse groups of individuals with varying education levels in an easily digestible manner.

Julie values what she learns on each assignment and is committed to sharing her experience as an F2F volunteer. “It is interesting to see parallels between the U.S. and developing country practices, especially the technologies and polices that we take for granted,” she explains. Since returning to the US, Julie has shared stories and lessons from her assignment with faculty and students at NCSU and staff from the National Science Foundation Center for Integrated Pest Management. She also shared her training documents to help another individual prepare for his upcoming USAID-funded trip to develop a pesticide manual in Nepal.

Thank you, Julie, for all your hard work in helping to improve pesticide safety in Nepal!