Agronomy alumna takes agronomic knowledge to Africa
By Sayde Uerkwitz
Working in international outreach and agricultural development is something a Purdue Agronomy alumna has wanted to do since she was a child. Her degree from Purdue has allowed her to live that dream. Adrianne Huber, BS ’12, majored in international agronomy. She grew up on a hog farm in south eastern Pennsylvania. Although her agriculture influence started on the family farm, she also had a passion for international mission work.
“I always had a desire to work internationally,” Huber said. “I can remember writing a paper in first grade about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote about working in agriculture, teaching and doing something internationally. That is exactly what I am doing.”
Huber works as a missionary for Eastern Mennonite Missions. She is one of five people who are stationed in Guinea Bissau Africa.
“I live in Catel, a very small village in Guinea Bissau. Out of the five missionaries I am the only person teaching agriculture. Our goal is to teach and train the residents of the village the work we do. Right now I have three local interns working with me to learn conservation and other agriculture practices. I will also conduct training seminars with the locals.”
When it was time for Huber to attend college she was drawn to Purdue for many reasons, one being the international agronomy major.
“During my college search I found that many agriculture colleges don’t offer an international major. When I found that Purdue did, I knew I had to visit. Once I toured the agronomy department I felt very welcome and appreciated the family atmosphere. I was also drawn to the international population on the Purdue campus. I felt like the major had everything I wanted and Purdue offered many opportunities other colleges didn’t.”
Dr. George Van Scoyoc, Huber’s academic advisor, said the international agronomy major is very important for students who have a passion like Adrianne.
“Some students who learn early that their passion lies in international work can find the international agronomy major is the right fit for them. In the major they focus on training, obtaining international experiences and developing international expertise. This major has brought a number of outstanding graduates to this campus. The students have the passion and the course work structures their future success.”
Completing her bachelor’s degree in three years, Huber felt her senior year came very quickly. She had to decide what her future was going to look like. She looked into attending graduate school, but decided to pursue employment.
“I called Eastern Mennonite Missions to hear their stories,” Huber said. “I wanted to know more about mission work and thought this would be a great place to start. During this conversation I had the opportunity to explain my passion. By the end they encouraged me to apply to an open position they had. I never thought I would end up in Africa, but I am glad I did.”
In addition to her outreach work, she also works very closely with women in the village.
“Women in Catel don’t have a lot of free time to learn new practices. I will spend time with them by participating in their daily activities. These moments are a great time to build relationships and teach. These moments can transpire into great success. I was invited to help start a women’s community garden. Each women would get their own plot and raise a variety of plants. Through this I am planning an array of training seminars.”
Although Huber does not live on U.S. soil, she still keeps in touch with the Purdue Agronomy Department.
“The relationships I built at Purdue are very important to me and I want to keep them strong. Experience is the only thing that can really prepare you to live in a new culture, but my degree from Purdue made me ready to accept the new experiences.”
Van Scoyoc added that he had no doubt Huber was ready for international work.
“Adrianne took many opportunities during her time as an undergraduate to be involved with international work. She traveled to Mexico as a freshman, Uganda twice before graduating and was heavily involved with international groups on campus. Her degree in international agronomy prepared her for the agronomic portion of her mission work.”