International agriculture minor to celebrate anniversary with virtual reunion

Amy Duke
May 19, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Since 1985, students in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences have gained a larger world view through participation in the international agriculture minor.

Commonly referred to as INTAG, the 18-credit minor helps students cultivate an understanding of international development and the agricultural systems of various cultures throughout the world. Those students, current and past, are coming together to celebrate the program’s 35th anniversary during a virtual reunion planned for noon to 1 p.m. on May 27.

“To understand the world, one must understand agriculture, because it is the glue that keeps communities physically, mentally and economically healthy,” said Noel Habashy, assistant teaching professor and INTAG program coordinator in the college’s Office of International Programs.

“We laud the college’s leadership and faculty then and now for supporting the INTAG minor, which empowers our students to tackle global challenges such as human rights, food insecurity and poverty. The hundreds of students who have graduated from the program have made positive impacts on communities around the world.”

The program features courses in a broad range of academic fields, including social and natural sciences, and can be paired with any Penn State major.

“We have students in majors outside of agriculture who want to expand their horizons and knowledge through the INTAG minor,” Habashy said.

The minor requires that students participate in an international experience, which can be fulfilled by completing a semester-long research project or by taking an embedded course that has an international travel component. However, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, program leaders are exploring alternative ways for students to meet this requirement, noted Habashy.

INTAG student Gillian Warner has fulfilled the international experience directive through several avenues, including completing a remote internship with Oxfam America, a global organization dedicated to ending poverty, and through an embedded agricultural and extension education class, in which she spent spring break during her freshman year in Belize learning about agricultural production.

“Gaining a minor in INTAG has been a fantastic experience,” said Warner, a junior majoring in community, environment, and development. “With small class sizes and discussion-based lectures, students have the opportunity to engage with issues facing global food security. The topic is critical to the well-being of people around the world, and the minor provides a look into the complex challenges and solutions in addressing international agriculture.”

INTAG graduates have gone on to enjoy careers in a wide variety of professional fields, noted Habashy. Some attend graduate school, while others pursue jobs in the public sector, education and the Peace Corps.

One of the many of INTAG alumni making a mark on the world is Andrew Schlegel, who graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in food science. He is an international trade specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, where he helps improve foreign market access for U.S. products and provides food aid and technical assistance to foreign countries.

Andrew Schlegel

Andrew Schlegel is an international trade specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

IMAGE: Andrew Schlegel

“To put it simply, international agriculture is essential — we can’t grow and produce everything in America,” he said. “We need to get products from around the world, and the same goes for other countries. Countries are dependent on each other for safe food.”

Schlegel said he would not have the career he has today without the experiences he gained through the minor, which included spending a semester in Paris, France.

While in Paris, he met with the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service agricultural attaché, an encounter that helped shape his career path. “I realized how amazing it is that you can live around the world while helping U.S. farmers and companies get their products everywhere,” he said.

Schlegel has met other influential people, including INTAG alumni, along the way. “The minor gave me a great overview of how agriculture works around the world including global ag policy, agriculture in developing countries and so much more that I have used throughout my career,” he said.

Warner and Schlegel will be among those sharing their stories with other reunion attendees, including Deanna Behring, assistant dean and director of international programs for the college.

“When students graduate from INTAG, we want them to be passionate change agents, good stewards of the environment and respected professionals,” Behring said. “We are looking forward to bringing students and alumni together to explore the past and present and look toward the future.”

To register for the May 27 reunion, visit https://engage.tassl.com/event/7587/.

 

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 19, 2020