More than 20 agroscience juniors from the Universidad Nacional de Agricultura (UNA) in Honduras were hosted by the FIU Agroecology Program and the Department of Earth and Environment for a week-long, ecological agriculture workshop.
The Consulate General of Honduras in Miami helped the university receive the students with a welcome address Oct. 17 at the Graham Center in the Modesto A. Maidique Campus.
The students were able to attend lectures, tour FIU laboratories, library facilities and organic garden, visit the Applied Research Center and network with students and professors. They also were taken to field tours of several other South Florida facilities including Possum Trot Tropical Fruit Nursery, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and the United States Department of Agriculture’s SubTropical Agricultural Research Station.
“South Florida is the perfect location to study ecological agriculture. The university’s location and resources offer access to the Everglades and to our very diverse natural and urban ecosystems,” said Krish Jayachandran, graduate program director of environmental studies. “We have a strong, multi-disciplinary Agroecology Program, and this is the right place to come to if you want to study and do well in that field.”
In October 2010, UNA students first visited FIU for the agroecology workshop. After the initial exchange, both schools signed a Memorandum of Understanding that strengthened their institutional relationship, enabled the exchange of resources across borders and facilitated the travel of students and faculty.
“We did the first exchange as a one-time event, with no long-terms plans of continuing it. However, the students loved the program so much that we decided it was worthwhile to do it on an annual basis,” Jayachandran said.
One of the students from the 2010 exchange program returned during this summer for three months to conduct research for his undergraduate thesis.
“It was great seeing that we had made such an impact during the first workshop that brought back one of the students to gain more research experience,” Jayachandran said. “It feels good to know our that our program contributed to him graduating and motivated him to show interest in attending FIU for graduate school.”
Jayachandran said he would like the exchange program to grow where FIU students and faculty can travel to UNA and other foreign universities to do research and field work on other agriculture ecosystems.