Sowing a sustained future; ICFIE introduces SOWER Scholar Program
Sometimes, it’s all in the seeds you sow. In this case the seeds come from Texas Tech’s International Center for Food Industry Excellence (ICFIE) which has introduced a new program that characterizes their umbrella concept – SOWER Scholars, or Sustaining our World through Education Research.
“We call our interns SOWER Scholars,” said Todd Brashears, chair of the ICFIE Outreach and Education Division and an associate professor within Tech’s Department of Agricultural Education and Communications. “The idea is that we bring students from other countries here, we provide them information and training, they go back to their countries, and they are the seeds.”
ICFIE is a collaborative center at Tech comprised of faculty members from Tech’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and the College of Human Sciences. The four main areas of emphasis include food safety, value-added processing, nutrition, and outreach and education.
The SOWER Scholars program was implemented this spring. Brashears said the program includes an agreement with several universities in Honduras. Six undergraduate students spent their spring semester learning and conducting research in the area of food safety, five of which will be returning to Tech to pursue their graduate degree. More than 70 students from Honduras are interested in the program. ICFIE currently has funding for 11 students.
Discussions have been initiated to implement additional agreements with Earth University in Limon, Costa Rica, the University of Veracruz in Xalapa, Mexico, the University of Yucatan in Merida, Mexico, and the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City. Brashears said a long-term goal is to create a foundation to endow the program for permanent sustainability.
“In ICFIE, we’re looking for more practical impacts on communities to improve the standard of living,” Brashears said. “If the people we bring here from other countries go home and teach other people, then our reach is magnified one hundred times.”
Written by Faith Jurek
CONTACT: Todd Brashears, assistant professor within the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org