A group of Iowa State University students recently returned from the “Tropical Agriculture and Culture in Ghana” study course to Ghana, Africa, which took place from December 30-January 15. Instructors Dr. David Kwaw-Mensah, agronomy, Dr. Theressa Cooper, agricultural education and studies and assistant dean for diversity for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and CALS Global Programs Agricultural Education and Studies Director, Jodi Cornell accompanied the group. The students visited three ecological areas of Ghana including the dry coastal savannah, the semi deciduous rainforest, and the high-rain evergreen forest, where students learned about tropical agriculture, agroforestry, animal production, animal ecology, and aspects of Ghanaian culture in foods, art, and music. Students had the opportunity to interact with local farmers for community service.
Agronomy students Kylie McGlade, Chris Meyer and Emma Caspers went with the group. “We truly did it all, visiting local farms, research stations, cultural landmarks, and being immersed into local communities!” said McGlade, a senior in agronomy. “As an Agronomy major also studying genetics, it was extremely interesting to learn about breeding projects in different crops especially rice. Traveling and speaking to farmers and researchers in other countries is so eye opening as a way to learn from each other and further agronomic knowledge.”
One of the most exciting things Caspers learned about during the trip was the cultivation of Rubber Trees. “It fascinated me to discover that harvesting the sap from these trees requires years of experience, with precision being crucial in scraping the bark. A single mistake in the cut could negatively impact the tree’s ability to produce rubber sap,” said Caspers. The highlight of her study abroad experience came during her interaction with professors, farmers, and children. “Seeing the positive impact our presence had on their lives, despite the challenging weather conditions, was truly heartwarming. They warmly welcomed us and made sure we had the best possible experience during our time there. Everyone we met truly gave us the ‘Ghanian Kindness’ that my professor Dr. Kwaw-Mensah always spoke so highly of upfront,” said Caspers.
In photos at top, from left, agronomy senior Kylie McGlade takes a selfie with members of the Ghana study course group making their way by boat to the Village on Water (Nzulezo). Center, the group visits a demonstration rice plot at the Crops Research Institute, Kumasi. At right, (from left) Lydia Johnson, Dr. Theressa Cooper, and Kylie McGlade wear leaf hats while visiting Nzulezo. Villagers had given them the hats to cool down, but they are usually worn as umbrellas. Photos provided by Kylie McGlade.