College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

International Research & Agricultural Development

Student Testimonials


Brandon Nickels 297812_475844855787670_436756293_n

Undergraduate: Agricultural Economics and Food Business Economics

IRAD Project: Brazil Study Abroad 2013

Here is what he has to say: 

“My study abroad experience in Brazil greatly broadened my global perspective; providing me with a better understanding of international agricultural systems, and international trade.”

“I traveled to Brazil for two weeks in May 2013 on a faculty-led trip. We had the opportunity to visit a number of universities, institutes, and research facilities in several Brazilian states during the first week before spending the second week in Menaus and the Amazon. My favorite part of the experience was our time in the Amazon. I had never experienced anything quite like our time boating up the Amazon river, hiking through the forest, and staying with tribal families.

The entire Brazilian experience broadened my world view, and understanding of different cultures. There has been numerous occasions since being back home that different places in Brazil have come up in the news and I was able to understand where it was and what the situation was like there. Overall the trip has only further strengthened my passion to gain international experiences and experience other cultures. In fact, my Brazilian experience encouraged me to apply to do a research project in Rwanda this coming May. I was fortunate enough to be accepted for the research program and am greatly anticipating my next trip abroad.

I am currently a junior majoring in Agricultural Economics and Food Business Management with a minor in Business Administration. After graduating I would like to work in industry for a few years before starting my own farm enterprise.”


Loren Ariza

Masters: Plant Pathology

IRAD Project: Brazil Study Abroad 2013

Here is what he has to say: 

“Traveling around Brazil’s largest city, seeing the thriving agricultural port of Manaus, floating through flooded canopies, and hiking through the Amazonian forest was an eye opening experience to say the least. Every day that I spent in Brazil, I gained some new cultural insight that continually changed my perspective of the world. I am grateful for the enormous contributions that faculty and students in my group made toward the positive outcome of this trip, and those people will long be remembered.

One of the highlights of the trip was my hike through the forest in São Pedro. Wandering on a horse trail, I stumbled upon a colony of leaf cutter ants—which I have been fascinated with for many years—and was able to sit and watch them traffic bits of Mimosa tenuiflora leaves to their nest. A few days later we crossed the river where I found a colony of South American weaver ants gluing leaves together to build their nest. I have always viewed ants as a powerful symbol of collaboration—an idea that seemed thematic to our time in Brazil.

The WSU team had an enthusiasm that allowed us to interact with professionals and locals within a diverse range of contexts and demeanors. Not only did I gain firsthand knowledge of cultural, political, economic, and religious issues and concerns that are often challenging to bring up, but there were many moments where comfort levels were high and we laughed and joked about different cultural ideas, and beliefs.

My take home message from this trip is that the idea of working together with people around the world—to achieve something as simple as enriching each other’s lives—is  not an unreasonable thought, but an attainable goal.”


Erin GhigleriStudents at World Food Prize

Bachelors: Integrated Plant Science

IRAD Project: World Food Prize 2013

Here is what she has to say: 

“I didn’t know what to expect when I agreed to represent the WSU IAAS Chapter at the World Food Prize. Little did I know, I would have the opportunity to shake hands with Paul Collier of the International Monetary Fund, have lunch with President Grimsson of Iceland, and connect with leaders in agriculture development from all over the globe.

I had the opportunity to meet other passionate and driven students in agriculture from Iowa State and North Carolina State, and collaborate with them on initiatives to create opportunities for undergraduate students at the World Food Prize. As a team, we gained support from a variety of leaders in the agricultural industry to incorporate an action-based round-table discussion between students, policy makers, government officials, and industry leaders into the World Food Prize program agenda.

This opportunity was an affirmation of my values and career pursuit, but also helped me ask the right questions to clarify my path in life. I am thankful.”


Rwanda Day 5 (first work day) 252

Rowan Ringer

Graduation: 06/05/13

Major: IPS Field Crop Management

IRAD Project: Undergraduate Research and Implementation Project in Rwanda

Here is what he has to say: 

“I participated in the IRAD internship project in Rwanda in the summer of 2012.  It was my first time in Africa, my first chance to work in the developing world, and the first step towards realizing a long-standing dream of pursuing a career in international agricultural development.  During the project I became good friends with the Rwandan students we were working alongside and remain in contact with them to this day.  I also got me first experience with working in the developing world and the flexibility that is constantly required in order to successfully meet your goals.

After the project I completed my studies at WSU and graduated with a BS in Integrated Plant Sciences in December 2012.  After that, I applied for and was awarded a two month paid internship in Kenya which was brought to my attention through the IRAD/IDC network.  Nearing the completion of the internship I was introduced to a family that is building a small agricultural university in Southeastern Kenya and they invited me to stay in Kenya and work on their project.  I have now been in Kenya for almost five months.”


Victoria BarthIMG_1926

Graduation: 5/9/13

Major: Integrated Plant Sciences

IRAD Project: Communications Coordinator and Student Outreach-Internship

Here is what she has to say: 

“I could not ask for a better internship.”

“I started out as a freshman just working on little marketing tools, such as a newsletter or two, for the IRAD non-profit RippleEffect. However, once I became hired on as the intern for the IRAD office, it was then that I really started learning, and fast. I learned about communication and leadership. I have learned effective writing and advertising skills as well as how to work on a team. But above all I have benefited from this job because the teamwork and collaborative nature of this internship has lead me to understand what it means to be empowered and empower others to do their best while working in my dream career field.

This job changed the direction I wanted to go in my life by giving me hands on experiences in a field I was curious about and set me on a path to success through the contacts I made as well as the skills I have learned. I could not ask for a better place to have worked during my college career.”

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