Cross-cultural and experiential learning in El Salvador for extension specialists : lessons learned in the field
A delegation from Lincoln University (LU) Cooperative Extension of Missouri participated in a 12-day exchange program that included visits to communities and institutions in Central and Western El Salvador. The delegation included LU Native Plants Program (LU-NPP) staff and members of four communities in Missouri. The objectives were: 1. For the LU delegation to be immersed in the Salvadoran culture and learn how communities protect their resources and use native plants in their daily lives; 2. To exchange lessons learned between the LU-NPP, Salvadoran educators, producers, farmers, and communities; and 3. Identify organizations or agencies interested in forming alliances with the LU-NPP. Joint collaborative efforts between LU and organizations in El Salvador will help empower small farmers and will further advance agricultural and ecological education for low-income students in El Salvador and in Missouri. During site visits, local leaders from different agencies and community organizations and the LU delegation engaged in conversations to learn from each other's experiences. Salvadoran specialists were surprised to learn that Lincoln University also works with low-income communities and that farms in Missouri do not only grow cash crops. Many of the Native Plant Program's lessons learned in Missouri could be adopted in El Salvador to help small farmers and rural entrepreneurs. Evaluations from participants of this exchange program indicate that the delegation members increased their level of understanding of Latino culture and some had the opportunity to practice their Spanish skills which they can also use in Missouri. This program was funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and was part of two Capacity Building Grants.