Patrick Broyles, a U.S. Department of Agriculture employee, cleans a locally grown potato Dec. 18, 2008, during a visit to a new irrigation project in Muehlah, Iraq. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Wendy Wyman/Released)
Since 2003, more than 200 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees have sacrificed months – sometimes years – away from loved ones to live and work in war zones, voluntarily lending their skills and knowledge toward the betterment of people halfway around the world.
On Monday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack honored nearly 70 of these men and women, all of whom have returned from serving as agricultural experts in Iraq or Afghanistan in the past year. These employees hail from across the United States and represent several different USDA offices and agencies. In their roles as agricultural advisors, they have worked side-by-side with everyone from top officials with Iraq and Afghanistan’s ministries of agriculture to the U.S. military, from farmers, ranchers and students to widows and children. Read more »
USDA employees at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan Kathy Gunderman and Mike Ward tend to a lot in the People’s Garden, which was established on the embassy grounds earlier this year.
After a long workday, there is nothing Kathy Gunderman enjoys more than relaxing and tending to her garden, where brightly colored flowers and green, leafy lettuce is thriving under the hot summer sun. Read more »
U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry (front in white) and Afghan Agriculture Minister Asif Rahimi (on truck) load seed At Badam Bagh Farm in Kabul.
In Afghanistan, wheat is not only a diet staple but is also the country’s most widely grown crop.
When an invasive fungus known as Ug99 threatened to damage and destroy Afghan wheat, the USDA joined forces with U.S. Central Command and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan to help stop it. Together in late 2010, they delivered 150 tons of USDA-donated Ug99-resistant wheat seed to Afghanistan. The seed arrived in October 2010 and entered Afghanistan’s seed multiplication program. Read more »
On January 25, 2011, I arrived in Afghanistan to begin a one-year assignment helping Afghans revitalize thier agricultural sector through a variety of activities aimed to strengthen the capacity of the Afghan government, rebuild agricultural markets, and improve management of natural resources. USDA employees like me have worked in Afghanistan since 2003, helping to stabilize the country as it makes strides to become democratic and economically viable nation.
I also served a six-month assignment in Afghanistan during 2004 – 2005, and was drawn back for a second tour for a variety of reasons: the unique nature of the work; complexity of the civilian, military and Afghan participants; intrigue of working in an ongoing conflict environment; and the overall fascination of working with so many interesting people and situations in an historic initiative. Read more »
Maggie Rhodes, pictured in Afghanistan, has been a USDA agricultural advisor there since December 2009.”
For the last 26 years, I have proudly worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2009, I made a life- and career-altering decision to leave my job as the team leader in Program Allocations and Management Support with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Washington D.C. and volunteered to help support USDA’s efforts in Afghanistan. Read more »
Foresters from the USDA Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Nebraska Forest Service helped prepare the Nebraska Air and Army Guard’s Agriculture Development Team (ADT) for an 11-month deployment to Afghanistan.
The ADT will deploy to Afghanistan from July 2011 to May 2012 and work with local government, university and non-governmental organization personnel to improve agriculture and forestry in the war-torn country. Read more »