Chelsea Maupin high fives a student in a Vietnamese classroom

My Purdue View

Chelsea Maupin


Sustainable food and farming systems, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture


Kokomo, Indiana

I grew up gardening and have always loved state parks and environmental sciences. Testing water quality in the Wildcat Creek during the watersheds unit in eighth grade science was one of my favorite field trips. I found out about sustainable food and farming systems during a visit to the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. I minored in international studies in agriculture — curious minds wander.

So far, most students in my degree don’t come from a farming background, so it was great to have classes with students whose families make their living on the farm. It ensures that students can share ideas across the college about what our food system should look like. I also took advantage of the International Programs in Agriculture office, going to China and France on short-term study abroad trips and for a semester at the University of Sussex, where my studies included environmental perspectives on development. This gave me some experience looking at agriculture from other cultures, and has driven me to move to Vietnam to teach English for a year through a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant.

I don’t think it’s possible to separate myself from horticulture, so teaching in Phan Rang-Tháp Chàm around food and our environment will come naturally. The Fulbright grantees focus on improving language fluency and listening and speaking skills, so the lesson content is fairly flexible. I’m going to visit farms to learn about local agriculture, and I’ve started a garden to share with the students, too! Many of them are eager to learn about agriculture.

Next, I want to get a master’s degree through an international agriculture development program to continue studying people’s relationship with food and the land. My network of Purdue friends and contacts is a great launching point for what happens next.