As the world begins to emerge from two years of isolation because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the opportunity to reengage cross-culturally to tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing our food system and environment has never been greater. It is in response to that need and to the increasing understanding that agricultural sciences is a global endeavor that Hiram Larew has announced a $10,000 challenge grant to fund the College of Agricultural Sciences Global Experience Fund that he founded nearly 10 years ago.
Larew earned a master’s degree in botany and plant pathology and a doctorate in entomology at Oregon State University. He founded the fund to provide resources in support of students and faculty gaining global experiences related to food and agriculture in reflection of his own educational experience and the opportunities he had to conduct international research.
“If we don’t give our students the opportunity to work internationally, we are doing them a disservice. Agriculture is international,” he added.
Oregon agriculture specifically is increasingly dependent upon international collaboration and markets. According to the 2021 Oregon Agriculture Food and Fiber Economic Analysis developed by the College of Agricultural Sciences and the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the global reach of the Oregon agricultural system continues to grow, with exports up 25% since 2015.
Beyond the economics, however, Larew also recognizes the value of cross-cultural collaborations in maintaining the strength of our science.
“We have a lot to offer, but also a lot to learn from both other developed countries but maybe even more so, developing countries,” Larew added. “As a nation, we need to look beyond our borders. Just look at COVID—if we don’t solve problems internationally, they might not get solved.”
To aid in the call for more participants to contribute to the Global Experience Fund, it will be one of three fundraising focus areas for the College of Agricultural Sciences during Oregon State University’s annual Dam Proud Day on April 27. This is a University-wide effort to encourage broad philanthropic participation from a wide audience at all levels of contribution who have an interest in supporting student success. The other two focus areas include a fund to meet the needs of underrepresented students and a new scholarship in honor of former deans, Dr. Roy Arnold and Dr. Thayne Dudson.
“The benefits of international research are incalculable,” said Staci Simonich, Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, “If it weren’t for the opportunity to embark on international research, I don’t think my career would have ever taken the shape it did, and I would have missed out on some phenomenal lifelong friendships and connections. It is lifechanging, for society and for the individuals participating. We are incredibly grateful for the contributions Dr. Larew has made to expand access to these opportunities for more students.”
Those interested in learning more about the Global Experience Fund and contributing to it can do so either on Dam Proud Day or anytime by visiting https://agsci.oregonstate.edu/main/main/global-experiences-fund.