Agriculture is a human endeavor that is practiced in every corner of the world. That's why consideration of human behavior in an international context is necessary to gain a complete picture of agricultural problems.
According to Deanna Behring, director of international programs in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, the International Agriculture and Development (INTAD) dual-title degree program does just that.
"The program provides students with international perspectives and expertise to strengthen their primary graduate degree in agricultural sciences," she said. "It positions them to become better competitors for career opportunities working with international organizations, universities and research institutes, and international corporations."
Anna Testen, a 2012 graduate with a master's degree in plant pathology and in international agriculture and development, is already becoming a successful scientist with a global research agenda, thanks, in part, to the INTAD program. Now in the final phase of her doctoral program at Ohio State University, Testen investigates methods of improving soil and plant health for tomato farmers in the Morogoro Region of Tanzania.
"Tomato is a key vegetable cash crop in Tanzania and provides a source of income and nutrients to smallholder farmers and their communities," said Testen. "Diseases, a lack of improved varieties, and poor soil health and soil management practices limit yields of this crop in Tanzania to far less than the world average. We work directly with farmers to address these constraints, which can help improve the sustainability and profitability of tomato production."
Testen, who recently was awarded a Presidential Fellowship by the Ohio State University Graduate School, said the INTAD program at Penn State has played an important role in preparing her for a career in international agricultural development by providing her with a framework and skillset for working in international agricultural development.
"INTAD allowed me to 'get my feet wet' in social science techniques that are essential in agricultural development," she said. "The social science experiences provided by INTAD complement the laboratory and field research techniques I've acquired in my graduate programs in plant pathology."
Testen added that the INTAD courses she took, especially International Agricultural Development in Sub-Saharan Africa and Program Design and Delivery, gave her specific knowledge and skills that she has applied in her doctoral program. In addition, INTAD provided her with funding to attend the Borlaug Dialogue during the World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa.
"During this meeting, I learned about research and development programs that directly influence my research today," she said. "My experiences with the INTAD program have been key to my success in my master's work in Bolivia and Ecuador and in my doctoral work in Tanzania."