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Toucan Education Program concludes 4 Year Project in Belize

Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019. 4:41 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: Toucan Education Programs and North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina U.S.A. recently concluded a four-year education abroad agriculture project in Belize.

The United States (US) Department of Agriculture funded the project, titled “Enhancing the Graduate Program through International Agricultural Experiential Learning and Extension Opportunities”, which wrapped up with 4 agricultural workshops in the Cayo District. 

Two workshops on ginger were facilitated by Dr. Guochen Yang while Dr. Roy Beckford facilitated two workshops on Integrated Pest Management.

These workshops were offered both in San Antonio and Central Farm for ease of participation by stakeholders in June 2019.

The North Carolina A&T Delegation also included Dr. Millie Worku, Dr. Kenrett Jefferson-Moore, John Paul Owens, and Kishaa James representing animal sciences, agribusiness, farm management, and student services.

The North Carolina A&T delegation also visited 4 of their students who were enrolled in Toucan Education Programs’ international experiential learning course in Belize – “Sustainable Economic & Community Development” which was taught by Dr. Ydahlia Metzgen.

This project was directed by Dr. Chastity English and co-directed by John Paul Owens and Odile Huchette.

 Past collaborators have also included Dr. Joshua Idassi and Dr. Ramesh Ravella from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.

From 2016 through to June 2018, Toucan Education Programs, an education abroad social enterprise operating in San Ignacio designed and implemented experiential learning activities on behalf of project partners with key agriculture stakeholders that included small farmers in San Antonio, Cayo District, extension and research personnel at the Ministry of Agriculture, Central Farm, and collaborators at the University of Belize, Central Farm.

Over the four years, the aforementioned Belizean collaborators have engaged 12 graduate agriculture students and 11 North Carolina A&T State University faculty from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines in the field of agriculture.

In addition to North Carolina A&T State University faculty and students sharing and learning from their Belizean partners, this project supported Belizean partners on an exchange visit to North Carolina in 2018.

Toucan Education Programs once again worked with the university to support this exchange.

The visiting Belizean delegation was made up of Belizean farmers and key agriculture personnel in research, agro-processing, extension, technical, and a student who recently completed his associate’s degree at UB Central Farm.

“The exchange visit to North Carolina A&T State University was a highlight of this project. The exchange visit was designed to foster a reciprocal learning process, which is a core value at our organization. It was indeed humbling to facilitate North Carolina A&T State University’s interest to implement this very important project in Belize,” Rhondine Petrof, Founder, and CEO of Toucan Education Programs expressed.

 Petrof worked closely with the university’s initial visiting party in Fall, 2014.

The small party of faculty and administrators was led by Dr. Antione J. Alston, Associate Dean and Interim Chair and Dr. Chastity Warren English, Associate Professor, and director of the project.

That first visit provided favorable insights on the viability of such a project through direct engagement with Belizean partners who were recommended by Toucan Education Programs.

 “The university could have conducted this project in any other country, yet Belize was selected. Mr. John Paul Owens whose areas of expertise spans farm management, international development, agritourism, and international programs worked in Belize many years ago with USAID. Hence, I believe Mr. Owens had cultivated a love for the country and its people, making Belize his first choice for this four-year project,” Petrof added.

“The project would not be the success it is without our Belizean stakeholders,” stated Petrof. On behalf of Toucan Education Programs, Petrof expresses her sincere gratitude to both Belizean and North Carolina A&T State University partners.

Toucan Education Programs (TEP) is a Belizean social enterprise focused on education abroad programming. The organization was founded in 2010.

TEP’s education abroad programs are designed around its mission to foster service that is mutually beneficial, learning that is intentional, and being responsible stewards of the environment. 

As a Belizean social enterprise, TEP is committed to the development of the people and communities it serves. The organization’s business model supports both social and economic change with 70% of the organization’s income going into the Belizean economy.

 

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