International Agriculture Day Reception 2014
By Merritt Melancon
University of Georgia
No other commodity represents Georgia agriculture better than the humble peanut. Most Georgians know that Georgia grown peanuts are in most jars of peanut butter in the United States. But many may not know that the protein-packed nut has a life-saving impact at an international level.
“Peanuts are truly impacting lives around the world,” Sally Wells, logistic manager for Birdsong Peanuts, told a crowd of University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences students this month. “And you have that opportunity, too, no matter what course of study you choose. Because it’s about being open to the possibilities.”
As part of the college’s 2014 International Agriculture Day celebration, Wells told students how she and the U.S. peanut industry became involved in international hunger relief efforts — from their support of therapeutic foods for malnourished children to the construction of processing plants and farmer training programs in developing nations.
Her message was simple: Students may start their careers in Georgia, but they will never know where those careers will take them or how they can affect the world.
About 30 percent of CAES students study abroad while at UGA, and the college is actively working to increase that percentage through travel scholarships and assistantships. Each year, students and faculty in the university’s college of agriculture celebrate another year of global outreach and education at International Ag Day. Developing a comfort level with working and traveling abroad is becoming necessary for a successful career, said J. Scott Angle, dean of the college, at this year’s celebration.
“Agriculture and environmental work — these are all international businesses now,” he said. “If you’re not comfortable with working with people from around the world, and you’re not comfortable working with people who are different than you, who have different cultures, different laws and different ways of doing business — you’re going to be at a real disadvantage. As CAES students, you all have understood that. That’s why you’ve been doing what you’ve been doing.”
The college has made many strides in increasing its international engagement and has become one of the leading colleges of agriculture in international education, outreach and research programs, he added.
Angle credited a lot of that progress to the work of recently retired UGA CAES Office of Global Programs Director Edward T. Kanemasu.
In recognition of his decades of service, building relationships and managing the college’s international research, outreach and educational projects, Angle announced the creation of the Edward T. Kanemasu Global Engagement Award for international student travel and education.
"On behalf of me and the college, thank you for what you have done,” Angle said. “The college’s students have benefitted, the faculty have benefitted, but just as important, the entire state has benefitted from you bringing the world to Georgia.”
Amrit Bart, who took over Kanemasu’s position at the beginning of the year, told the crowd that the office of global programs hopes to build on the college’s reputation as an international institution and work to further expand its reach.
“I’m looking forward to seeing that our international programs make it to a new height, where other universities look to us for innovation,” he said.