Annette Hacker, director,
Office: (515) 294-4777
Amber Herman, Iowa State University student, (515) 451-9572
Dan Kuester, News Service, (515) 294-0704
Passion for food security takes Iowa State student to Africa
AMES, Iowa -- It was during her freshman year at Iowa State University that Amber Herman realized what her passion is -- food security, insuring people have access to healthy, quality food.
To pursue her passion and further her education, Herman is preparing to spend almost four months in Uganda, a central African nation where many people lack access to basic, healthy foods. She leaves Feb. 1 and returns in May.
This is the second trip to Africa and third trip overseas as a proponent of food security for the Davenport native. She went to Kenya in 2003 to volunteer in a poverty-stricken Maasai village as a school teacher and assist the community in building a concrete school. In July, she flew to Scotland to attend the G8 Summit where she met with United States government officials to discuss agricultural trade and food aid.
ISU's School for International Training sponsors the academic and field-based study abroad program in Uganda. During her stay, Herman will attend seminars at Makerere University, Kampala, and conduct research through Iowa State University's Center for Sustainable Rural Development.
It was while teaching during the Kenya trip, that she saw children who had to leave school because of lack of food.
"The children were sick because of hunger," she said. "Education is the key to fighting poverty, and when you're hungry, you can't learn."
For Herman, this is the perfect time to make an impact.
"Roughly 50 percent of Uganda is under age 15," Herman says. "It's very important that these young people understand agriculture and food production."
During the first eight weeks of her visit, Herman will live with a local family in Kampala, learn the Luganda language spoken in the southern region of the country, and take classes in Ugandan history and community development at Makerere.
Then she will start her research.
"I will be interviewing young farmers -- those over the age of 18 and under age 25 -- to see what support network they have," she said.
The results of the research will by used by Volunteer Effort for Development Concerns (VEDCO), a Ugandan group committed to entrepreneurial agriculture in the country and partnered with Iowa State University's Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods.
For Herman, the road to Africa began while she was a freshman as a pre-veterinary major. Iowa State professors who shared their passion to end global hunger were instrumental in sparking her interest in agriculture and food security.
"I realized that I care more about the livelihoods and food sources of farmers than how to doctor their cattle," said the senior now majoring in public service and administration in agriculture.
In Uganda, she will be able to continue her work in food security with a passion.
Davenport native Amber Herman found her passion for food security and it's taking her all the way to Africa.
"When you're hungry, you can't learn."
Amber Herman, ISU student