In the second World Conference plenary session, Dr. David Lawver facilitated a Q&A between qualified stakeholders, Martin Eweg, Dr. Jeff Mutimba, and Dr. Kristin Davis, as well as the members who attended. Before questions were asked, it was suggested that in an effort to attract more people to the field, work should be done to glamourize or “sexy”-fi agriculture and extension. The underlying idea being that with more people who capture an interest in the subject, organizations and extension agencies will have a more diverse and well-rounded group to hire from. This would allow them to combat a wider range of problems with innovative and improved tactics.
While I agree with this logic to a certain extent, I fear that it could also lead to an adverse reaction by attracting a less desirable group of people to the field. These thoughts were solidified when a member of the audience brought to the panel’s attention their dire need for those working in the field to improve upon their cultural sensitivity. One man even suggested to take a break from the five star hotel we were staying in, get a mosquito net, and spend some quality time with the communities that so many would like to help.
The panel members did go into depth on the importance of having more people in the field who truly want to help and make a difference. However, my impression of making something sexy or glamorous is that it would attract people who are purely interested in making money or some form of personal gain. I’m sure that by planning ahead and using the right marketing strategies this predicament could be avoided. Another suggestion that I was glad to hear was when a woman threw out the notion of integrating health education with agricultural extension efforts. These two subjects are highly related, and should this idea begin to be put into effect more often, I feel that we would see better results on a more regular basis.