Taya Brown chosen to participate in AIARD’s Future Leaders Forum


By: Emily Foreman

Congratulations to Taya Brown, a graduate student in the ALEC department, on being selected by the Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development as a participant in their 2015 Future Leaders Forum. She is one of 12 students to be chosen from a variety of universities across the United States.

FLF recipients are selected on a competitive basis and must demonstrate an interest as well as experience in addressing international agriculture and rural development issues. Brown will be attending the 2015 AIARD Annual Conference in Washington D.C. May 31 to June 4, 2015.

AIARD is an association with members based both internationally and in the United States. These members have dedicated their careers to global agricultural development and hunger alleviation. The membership has a wide range of experience in all regions of the world and meets regularly to discuss food security issues and their solutions. Their 2015 annual conference’s theme is “Fostering Innovation in International Agriculture and Rural Development”.

“The Future Leaders Forum was developed to bring younger, up-and-coming folks in agriculture to the conference, but a big part of it are these field days where we’ll be visiting offices like USAID, World Bank, FAO, Peace Corps and these kind of organizations in international development that are really big names,” Brown said.

While at the conference, students will also visit a variety of non-governmental organizations, consulting firms and other organizations relevant to global food security. This is to help expand their understanding of agricultural issues on a global scale and give them insight into career opportunities in international agriculture and rural development.

“For me personally, I’m just putting the pieces into place about how everything works. How funding works, how teams are put together, how needs are identified and then accessed,” Brown said. “I’m really hoping to understand the lay of the land more than anything.”

Brown said she plans to work in monitoring evaluation. Her interests lay with international development projects and how they work in general, rather than a specific crop or people group.

“I think I can get excited about a specific problem that’s being addressed around the world,” she said. “But what I hope to bring to that is how do we make these projects work. How do we get everybody on the same page so that work happens more efficiently, so that ultimately the work that we do has a better positive effect on the communities that we are working in.”

Brown has two major life-goals for the career she is building. One is to travel internationally on a fairly extensive basis. The other is to engage with farmers and agriculture around the world, preferably on a smaller scale.

“I am really excited about this opportunity and am really thankful to the ALEC Department,” Brown said. “The department has been nothing but supportive.” She wanted to convey her genuine thanks to the department for paying for her airfare to Washington D.C., a provision Brown never expected.

Brown was not the only student chosen from Texas A&M University. Katherine Dennis, a graduate student in the department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences, was also selected and will be attending the conference.

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