Fond du Lac — Fond du Lac native Anna Snider recently completed her fifth volunteer assignment with Winrock International Farmer-to-Farmer Program in Calabar, Nigeria.
Snider spent two weeks in Nigeria training agriculture extension workers and the leaders of agricultural cooperatives in better extension delivery methods, group work and cooperative management.
“This was a particularly rewarding assignment because there was such an appreciation for the training, especially among the members of cooperatives,” said Snider. “We had originally hoped to train 60 members, which seemed pretty optimistic. In the end, we trained more than 120 members. The room was packed. People were sitting outside, leaning in the windows.”
The Cross River Agricultural Development Program is the Nigerian governmental agency responsible for agricultural extension to the state’s farmers who grow cocoa, corn, rice, oil palm, cassava and livestock. The agency requested a volunteer to help them improve their extension teaching methods, as there are only 100 extension agents to serve approximately 40,000 farming families. With a 1 to 4,000 ratio, the extension agents must work with groups rather than with individual farmers. This means helping the farmers organize into cooperatives and farmer-to-farmer learning groups, as well as training model farmers to assist their peers.
“The problem,” Snider explains, “is that the leaders of these new cooperatives don’t have any training in leading a cooperative, so we decided to add another class for the cooperatives. We talked about ethics, transparency, farmer-to-farmer learning and technology. They still desperately need training in bookkeeping and marketing.”
Snider’s past volunteer assignments include improving the horticulture curriculum at vocational schools in Senegal, teaching composting and soil health to farmers in Lebanon and Bangladesh and helping farmers reduce pesticide use in Kyrgyzstan.
Snider is a graduate of Laconia High School in Rosendale, where she was active in FFA and concert band. She completed a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1998 and a Master of Science in International Horticulture from Writtle College, England. She recently earned a joint Ph.D. in Sustainable Management and Planning Rural Development Projects from Montpellier SupAgro in Montpellier, France, and the Technical University of Madrid, Spain.
Winrock International is a nonprofit organization that works with people in the United States and around the world to increase economic opportunity, sustain natural resources and protect the environment. Winrock’s John Ogonowski and Doug Berueter Farmer-to-Farmer Program fields approximately 200 volunteers each year to assist farmers, agribusinesses and local organizations worldwide.
For more information about Winrock International's Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer program and opportunities, visit winrock.org/volunteer.