Tesdall Begins to Fulfill FAO Dreams

Posted: August 1, 2016

Genna Tesdall relates Rome and Washington, D.C. experiences with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Image: Michael Houtz, Penn State University

Image: Michael Houtz, Penn State University

As a young professional in global agriculture, it has been my dream to contribute toward a sustainable future through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Since January 2016 when I began my M.S. program in Plant Pathology and International Agriculture and Development (INTAD) at Penn State, I’ve had the honor of two FAO experiences.

In June 2016, I was fortunate to visit the FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy. Because of my leadership experiences in the International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences (IAAS), which has a liaison status with FAO, I have a deep interest in facilitating policy making and global agriculture experiences for agriculture students.

Thus, for one week I interviewed FAO staff and interns about the nature of youth involvement in FAO. The information I gathered was consistent with my past experiences and background research and revealed that FAO is doing a great deal with youth. Especially unique is FAO's Decent Rural Employment division in that it incorporates youth perspectives in national agricultural policy formation.

However, I also learned that there is still opportunity for growth for the youth voice in FAO. Most staff members that I interviewed had positive attitudes toward increasing youth involvement and believed it would be necessary for the future of agriculture and the long-term success of FAO as an organization. Although the scope of increasing FAO youth involvement does not seem feasible for my master's thesis, I hope to increase youth involvement in both FAO and agriculture over the course of my career.

View of Rome and U.N. flag from FAO rooftop
View of Rome and the United Nations flag from FAO rooftop  | Image: Genna Tesdall, Penn State University

Following my trip to Rome, I enjoyed a one-month internship at the FAO Liaison Office for North America (FAOLOW) in Washington, D.C. Here I had the pleasure of learning about FAOLOW functions, which are designed to raise awareness of FAO in North America and to liaise with the United States and Canadian governments, civil society, and the private sector. Some of the highlights of my internship were:

During my FAO experiences, I was impressed by the encouragement and support of the INTAD program and the Dept. of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology. In the future, Penn State's global agriculture program hopes to invite a FAOLOW representative to present to College of Agricultural Sciences students. Together, we can create additional opportunities for FAO student exposure and participation.