Penn State professor wins Young Professional Award in international agriculture

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Melanie Miller Foster, assistant professor of international agriculture in the Office of International Programs, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, received the 2017 Young Professional Award from the Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development.

Miller Foster is responsible for the dual-title graduate degree program in international agriculture and development, advising all enrollees and instructing the foundational course of the program. Under her leadership, the program has enrolled more than 50 students in just five years.

She also provides support for the Spanish for Agriculture Program and instructional assistance in several courses to help incorporate global perspectives. In addition, she is the global learning specialist for the Global Teach Ag! initiative in the Center for Professional Personnel Development for school-based agricultural education, and she has led groups of graduate and undergraduate students to South Korea, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Costa Rica and Belize. 

Miller Foster’s research focuses on global competency, global learning and transformative learning experiences, with active programs in Latin America and Asia. She is passionate about helping students, instructors and programs tell their story of global impact by expanding digital literacy in participants through engagement in multiple social media platforms.

The Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development is an association of professionals and practitioners in international development, with experience and intellectual and institutional capabilities to articulate and address broad-based as well as more focused development issues in agriculture and rural development.

Miller Foster is an active member of the association, serving on the organization's communications and membership committees and bringing expertise in social media and new member recruitment. She also serves on the International Agriculture Section Committee of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities as the representative to the Commission on International Initiatives. She holds doctoral and master's degrees in rural sociology from Ohio State University and a bachelor's degree in agricultural science from North Dakota State University.

"Melanie has made enormous contributions to our programming," said Deanna Behring, assistant dean and director of international programs for the College of Agricultural Sciences. "She has worked tirelessly to broaden the opportunities for our students and has contributed significantly to the Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development with her enthusiasm and energy, and by introducing young people to the organization."

The Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development's Young Professional Award was established in 1990 to recognize early career contributions to the achievement of the goals and objectives of the association. The award's selection criteria include the following: demonstrated public service that has advanced the purposes of the association; innovative contributions to association programs; commitment to international agriculture and rural development and to the association; and the recipient must be 40 years of age or younger.

Last Updated June 12, 2017