Diego Orellana Vintimilla, a M.S. student in the Department of Entomology, was recently named a fellow to the Future Leaders Forum – a competitive program managed by the Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development (AIARD) aimed at fostering student interest in international agriculture and rural development issues and their solutions. The Future Leaders Forums plays a pivotal role in fellows’ professional development by building a broad array of social/cultural, economic, and scientific skills required to become an effective 21st century professional in international agriculture and rural development.
“This is a valuable opportunity to increase networking and become more familiar with international agricultural activities taking place in Washington, D.C. and beyond,” suggests Diego, who is currently researching the role of soil communities in changing tomato growth, chemistry and resistance to insect and disease in organic farming systems under his advisor, Dr. Larry Phelan.
Diego, with support from the Office of International Programs in Agriculture, will participate in AIARD’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. from June 5-7, 2016, where he will interact with other researchers, students, professionals, and administrators working in the area of international agricultural development. His designation as a fellow will also allow him and eleven other graduate students from land-grant universities to visit international agencies, companies, and non-government organizations in Washington including USAID, USDA-FAS, World Bank, Peace Corps, United Nations/FAO, Chemonics, Dupont/Pioneer International, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
The Future Leaders Forum will complement Diego’s already strong interests in international development, global food security, and environmental sustainability.
“I’m interested in working with rural farmers’ cooperatives, government agencies, and industries to develop the tools and policies that are necessary to achieve economically sustainable food production systems that are also compatible with environmental quality,” says Diego.
He also has a sincere desire to expand international cooperation between the U.S. and his home country, Ecuador - a nation Diego believes has the potential to become a knowledge hub in South America and is searching for international guidance to create and implement appropriate policies and innovative practices in agriculture and rural development.
Diego is a graduate of Zamorano University in Honduras, where he received a B.S. in Agriculture with an emphasis in Food Science and Technology. In addition to serving as a visiting researcher at Ohio State before beginning his graduate studies here, Diego also worked at the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INIAP) in Ecuador where he worked on an agricultural research and extension team.