Kate Griswold, a University of Wisconsin College of Agriculture and Life Sciences senior, earned the chance to leave her stamp on global agriculture and sustainability when she was chosen as one of the Agriculture Future of America’s 40 Chances Fellows.
After growing up on a farm in Black Earth, Wisconsin, and showing cattle and hogs at county, state and national shows, Griswold came to UW to study life sciences communication in 2012.
Griswold’s decision to pursue additional certificates in international culture and agricultural business led Griswold to the 40 Chances Fellows program.
During Griswold’s freshman year, AFA named Howard Buffet, leader of the foundation 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World, a leader of international agriculture. Following the recognition, Buffet donated $250,000 to AFA, funding the 40 Chances Fellows program. Griswold applied to the four-year program and was selected.
“I did quite a lot of leadership, career and programming development,” Griswold said. “All this was meant to prepare us for a career in global agriculture and agriculture in general, that included resume reviews, workshops and conferences.”
After fulfilling preliminary requirements, Griswold traveled to Bolivia last winter break, where she toured multiple farms, and processing and production facilities. Since Bolivia is one of the highest-producing countries of quinoa, a gluten-free grain similar to rice, she and her peers focused on it.
Griswold spoke with quinoa farmers on her trip to learn about their market struggles and how it impacts Bolivia’s economy.
Griswold said while in Bolivia, students also worked with Save the Children, an international non-governmental organization, for a day to better understand how long it takes for countries outside the United States to build stable and efficient agriculture systems.
Griswold stressed that is important to recognize that what works in the U.S. may not be the best method in other countries.
After her two-week stay in Bolivia, she went to Washington, D.C. with all the students enrolled in the program. Since some students chose to go to Thailand and the Netherlands, they gathered to share their experiences and recommendations for how to establish stable agricultural systems in developing countries.
The program was great preparation for Griswold, who will work as a John Deere marketing representative after graduating from UW this spring.
“I have a greater appreciation for what we have and a better understanding for what other countries go through,” Griswold said.” Having that background of being in a country that doesn’t have a lot will really help me in this first job to hopefully bring that new perspective to this company.”