May 12, 2015

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2015 SEAS Professional Development Study Program

Georgians at farm with Dr. KushadFrom June 2nd – 12th the Strengthening Extension and Advisory Services (SEAS) project hosted seven extension officers and one agricultural researcher from the Republic of Georgia for the 2015 SEAS Professional Development Study Program. The participants were a part of the Georgia Ministry of Agriculture’s (MOA) nascent extension advisory services (EAS). It has only been two years since the Georgian EAS has been launched to support the government’s efforts to improve agricultural productivity and farm incomes. In support of the MOA’s goals, the SEAS project provides opportunities for Georgian extension staff to travel to the US for training, mentoring and learning exchanges.

From June 2-5, the group participated in a MEAS workshop (below) focused on private sector extension activities and the subsequent MEAS Symposium in Washington, DC. Both events brought together leading players in extension practice and research from around the world representing academia, NGOs, and public/private partnership organizations. The MEAS symposium and workshop focused on cutting-edge issues in extension, such as innovation practices, public private partnerships, the use of ICTs, extension monitoring and evaluation and gender equity.

Professor Mosbah Kushad, an Extension Specialist from UIUC joined the study program in its second week. Dr. Kushad helped to guide the group as they toured fruit orchard farms, agro-tourism sites, a farm supply cooperative and an apple processing plant (photo 1).

Georgia Study GroupA special emphasis of the study program involved visits with Virginia Tech University Cooperative Extension Service (VT CES) and West Virginia University Extension Service personnel (photo 2). The Georgians interacted with VT extension professionals directing a Farm Day activity with local fruit orchard producers and visited sites where VT CES interacted with local producers.  The extension staff of Louden County Virginia and Jefferson County, West Virginia graciously gave of their time to present their work and answer questions about extension programming and management.

The Georgian extension professionals learned about the important link between research and extension and how land grant universities and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) partner to share field research with extension professionals and farmers. The Georgians had the opportunity to visit the Virginia Tech Agricultural Research and Extension Center (AREC) in Winchester, Virginia and the USDA Appalachian Fruit Research Laboratory in Kearneysville, West Virginia. The 2015 SEAS Professional Development Study Program was an enriching experience for all involved and will serve to strengthen the capacity of the Georgian extension advisory services.

MEAS Symposium – June 2015


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