Agricultural Education Travels to Uganda

Madison TaylorAgricultural Communication & Marketing undergraduate Madison Taylor grew up on her family’s fourth generation century farm near Randolph, Minnesota, and was heavily involved in FFA and 4-H. These hands-on experiences played a large role in developing Madi’s passion for agriculture and education. With her agricultural education teacher Ed Terry’s support, she realized that working with people was something she truly loved.

Combining these two passions of agriculture and education, Madi embarked on a journey of a lifetime. “After being elected to serve as a Minnesota FFA State Officer, I knew that I could have a great impact working in Ag Education and have the opportunity to give back to something I got so much out of,” she said. After a trip to South Africa, Madi knew she wanted to do more international travel and focus on agriculture in other countries. “I wanted to combine my love for traveling, education, and agriculture into one and my experience in Uganda was the perfect way to do that.”

When the opportunity arose for Madi to travel to Uganda to teach others about agriculture, she instantly said yes. Her mom and dad have always been hugely supportive of student travel, so Madi knew her trip was going to be a great adventure. She got connected with Farmer to Farmer, which is a program is funded through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and provides technical assistance to individual farmers, farmer associations, agricultural cooperatives, education institutions, and others in various countries. Through this program, Madi began her journey to Uganda.

During her three weeks in Uganda, Madi focused most of her time at Gayaza High School (GHS). This is an all-girls boarding school about 45 minutes north of the capital city, Kampala. Madi said, “It is one of the most prestigious and oldest girls schools in Eastern Africa. Its mission was based on agricultural education within the school and building off of the program that GHS already had.”

Madi also facilitated and engaged students in learning opportunities, and had the opportunity to collaborate with the Young Farmers Club. “I worked with students, teachers, university professors, local community members, local farmers, and individuals in the government that work within the education system,” she said. Working on a wide range of projects gave Madi a diverse interactional experience with many different people.

When reflecting on her overall trip, Madi said that one of the most rewarding experiences for her was when she was leading a workshop with the students and they were seeing how everyday experiences and things like teamwork, critical thinking, and time management play a huge role in their present lives and in the future. “I also made a lot of wonderful friendships and learned so much about the country and people of Uganda. I can’t wait to go back!” she said. Another rewarding moment was when Madi heard some of the girls talk about how they wanted to study agriculture in college. “They talked about finding jobs in agriculture, as well as going back to their communities to help make a difference by providing information on sustainable home farming.”

As Madi continues to travel, she continues to learn more about herself, no matter where she is. After her experience in Uganda, she has gained a better perspective of international agriculture and education as a whole, in addition to what it takes to contribute to another country. She said, “I learned to have an open heart and open mind thanks to the example the Ugandan individuals set.  I grew in my overall mindset towards others and being inclusive as well as allowing to open my heart up and let others in. That is very important in personal development.”

Traveling to Uganda was one of Madi’s greatest experiences in her life. She hopes to do more missions trips, such as what she did in Uganda to focus on further expansion of agricultural education in other countries.

Madi is finishing her junior year at the University of Minnesota, completing a degree in Agricultural Communication and Marketing with a minor in International Agriculture. Upon graduating, she will pursue her Master’s Degree in Agricultural Education in the M.Ed. Initial Licensure Program. She plans to teach agriculture to student and adult learners in other countries and help them create sustainable practices to bring back to their communities, as well as finding opportunities in agricultural-related careers.

For more information on Madi’s Uganda trip, in addition to pictures, check out the blog series she helped write while in Uganda about her work and daily activities.