- Tue, October 29 2013 - 2:46 pm
Dr. Craig Edwards has long taught Oklahoma’s agricultural education teachers how to teach. So it’s no astonishment when he took academic sabbatical last fall, he continued educating teachers, only this time those teachers were halfway around the world. For these efforts and others, October’s DASNR International Programs Faculty Global Citizen is Dr. Edwards. The recognition spotlights faculty in Division Agricultural Science and Natural Resources who have been active in international studies and projects.
Dr. Edwards traveled to the African nations of Uganda the past two years as part of a U.S. State Department grant aimed at improving communication and food security in the country. “Most of my opportunities to travel and do work in several African countries is the result of a team effort in pursuing, receiving and delivering grant-supported projects provided by the U.S. Department of State,” Dr. Edwards said. He added that the teams also included OSU AGCM professors Dr. Dwayne Cartmell, Dr. Shelly Sitton and, on two occasions, Dr. Cindy Blackwell who is currently at the University of Southern Mississippi. After the Kenya and Uganda project ended, Dr. Edwards continued his travels last year in Africa on academic sabbatical, where he worked to train teachers in agriculture and other industries in several other African nations.
Dr. Edwards’ academic sabbatical started in Mali where he served as a volunteer for Winrock International, a nonprofit agency that links people in the U.S. with agricultural and economic projects worldwide. Dr. Edwards said he conducted needs assessments regarding school improvement at an agro-pastoralist school in Sikasso.
Next, he traveled to Benin to work with colleagues on a book chapter regarding human resource development for extension personnel. The Benin project was a USAID project supported by the Modernizing Extension & Advisory Services Initiative. In addition, while in Benin Dr. Edwards met with university faculty who taught agriculture in that country. The educators were involved in professional development of extension personnel through the Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education. Dr. Edwards said he took a one-day side trip to the country of Togo to experience the culture and surroundings.
He ended his academic sabbatical in December where he worked on a USAID-supported project titled Food & Enterprise Development in Liberia. Essentially, Dr. Edwards provided professional development workshops to educators on a variety of effective teaching behaviors; specifically directed toward agriculture instructors and teachers of other career and technical areas. He presented the workshops at one institute and two community colleges in Liberia.
Dr. Edwards said his favorite part of studying abroad, for academic or personnel trips, is working with others involved in agriculture. He said connecting with others who are especially interested in creating additional human capacity for their countries’ agriculture sectors, in particular their youth, is both interesting and enlightening for him.
In addition, Dr. Edwards said he enjoys describing OSU and our many opportunities for supporting international agricultural development and discussing how people, universities and organizations may be able to collaborate, such as developing grant proposals in the future, exchange of faculty and students, international students coming to OSU to study full-time, and research projects. “Observing and learning about the cultures, traditions and customs of people of the other countries is very interesting and educational,” Dr. Edwards said.
“Plan for it and do it,” Dr. Edwards said of students considering international study. He would advise students to participate in international travel opportunities. Dr. Edwards said there is no time like the present to broaden students’ views and outlook on the world; it is beneficial for students personally and academically to get involved internationally whether it is assisting with a faculty members’ international funded programs or simply a study abroad course.
“Take advantage of the study abroad scholarships made available by OSU and the various supporters of the OSU Foundation,” Dr. Edwards said. He also encouraged students to seek advice from faculty and others who have traveled internationally.
Edwards is originally from Klein, Texas. He graduated from Sam Houston State University with his bachelor’s degree in Agriculture with a teaching certificate and master’s degree in Vocational Education. He also attended Texas A&M University to earn his doctoral degree in Agricultural Education. Dr. Edwards is a professor of Agricultural Education and coordinator of Graduate Studies for the department. He credits his department head, Dr. Rob Terry, for his leadership and support.
- By Kari Wendt