Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) volunteer Dr. Anil Shrestha is our August Volunteer of the Month for so many reasons! A professor of weed science at California State University in Fresno, CA, Dr. Shrestha was notably Winrock’s first volunteer in Nepal after this year’s devastating earthquake. Born and raised in Nepal himself, Dr. Shrestha is also an excellent example of returning to one’s roots, to give back. “After taking on my first F2F assignment (in 2014), it made me reconnect with agriculture in Nepal. I saw the potential of how I could contribute,” he explains. “I am now going back more often than before.”
Earlier this month, Dr. Shrestha returned from his 2nd F2F trip with Winrock in Nepal , where he completed two assignments: one focused on developing a weed science program for the Agriculture and Forestry University (AFU), and another providing training for faculty and students at Uttarpani Technical School (UTS) Dhanakuta and Central Campus of Technology (CCT) Dharan on grant writing, experimental design, and data analysis.
We are all inspired by Dr. Shrestha’s reflections on this latest volunteer trip:
“On a personal level, being one of the very few weed scientists of Nepalese origin, I am extremely grateful for having had the opportunity to volunteer in Nepal and contribute to the development and initiation of a weed science program at the Agriculture and Forestry University (AFU). I also had the opportunity to interact with the young minds and was impressed by their enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge. Being originally from Nepal, one of my personal dreams was to start a weed science program in Nepal, and clearly, had it not been this opportunity offered by Winrock/F2F, it would have probably been impossible to accomplish this desire. Nepal definitely needs such type of assistance, and the impact also seems to be immediate. Of course, it will be interesting to see the long-term impact.
People were very, very receptive and eager for the information that I took to them. They participated a lot. It was good to see that I was able to bring some changes there, even during the short duration of the assignment. The weed science curriculum that I developed went through the curriculum committee and university academic council and was adopted right away. AFU will implement it starting in January. Also, with the faculty and students that I trained at UTS and CCT, I was able to see a change right away in how they handled data during and after the training.
Having seen all the potential in Nepal in my area of expertise, I felt that I could do more by serving my sabbatical need here than in some other country. I expressed my interest in serving my sabbatical leave in Nepal, and AFU was very welcoming to this idea.”
We asked Dr. Shrestha how U.S. universities can benefit from participating in F2F assignments. He notes, “It gives opportunities for our students in the US to learn about international opportunities. We are bringing back photos and experiences and sharing those with our students. Their interest in international opportunities increases. Volunteering with F2F benefits our university, brings visibility, and helps recruit students.”