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"My experience in Global Agriculture has shaped my Life"

This success story is the third one of a series that spotlight IAAS members' experiences in agricultural development. YPARD-IAAS series has featured, every two weeks, young champions from different regions of the world.

Ever since IAAS entered my life, it has defined it. IAAS helped me discover agriculture and enriched me beyond measure through life-long trans-continental friendships and collaborations. I, Genna Tesdall, am a member of IAAS United States at the local chapter IAAS Iowa State University (IAAS ISU).

Already in my time in IAAS, I’ve been able to help host the annual IAAS World Congress, the largest meeting of our association, serve as World President, and continue working with IAAS after my Presidency by working on our partnership with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Making lifelong friendships

When I first joined IAAS, I had never been outside my home country. I hadn’t even been on a plane! IAAS changed all that when I fell in love with the international community and perspective on agriculture IAAS offers. In Sweden, I spoke with students in agriculture from many countries, exchanging perspectives on this field in our countries, and how we hope agriculture will be in the future.

The most exciting part of these international relationships is to collaborate with IAAS members each day to create the future we want to see in agriculture. Very shortly after, I got to do this in two huge projects. First, I helped to create our World Congress (WoCo) 2015 in the United States at Iowa State University (ISU) with WoCo 2015 Director Becca Clay.

It was a joy to show other members a sliver of the future of agriculture in this American state. Planning the event taught IAAS ISU how to work together as a team, collaborate with university regulations for a large event, fundraise, manage a large budget, and operate with international visas. The skills our committee learned are extremely valuable in our careers, and IAAS empowered us to learn these skills for a meaningful purpose.

In August 2013, I was elected IAAS World President. Serving my fellow IAAS members as their elected President was a great honor and joyous learning experience! I saw the field of global agriculture from the perspective of an international organization. During my term, I learned how to report for European Union grants, manage a remote team as well as Standard Operating Procedures for the administration of IAAS. Most importantly, I worked to serve the needs of our committees.

Liaising with FAO

At the end of my term, I was thrilled to hand over the association to an extremely enthusiastic and well-qualified new Executive Committee. Thanks to their lead, I’ve been able to continue my involvement in this association. I currently work with IAAS on developing our partnership with FAO, for which IAAS is able to send observers to FAO events.

We wish to develop this relationship further. Therefore, with a small team of IAAS members, I work to explore and develop possibilities for our members to learn more about FAO. One of the first steps of this was to create training for our members about FAO. This training is based on my trip to FAO’s Committee on World Food Security in 2014 and on literature research. It was in this trip when I got to know more about YPARD’s work and started thinking about how linking up our members.

My experience thus far in global agriculture has shaped my life. Today, I plan to continue my involvement in global agriculture. In my formal education, I will study for a master’s of science in Plant Pathology and International Agricultural Development. I am only optimistic about where agriculture will take me!

For young agriculturalists, like myself, take the lead! Together, we can make the future we want in agriculture. It just takes participation in global networks like YPARD and IAAS. Together, we will be the difference!