Empowering Communities Through Extension

Growing up in 4-H, a youth organization back home, I have always felt very familiar with extension services.  Knowing where my local extension office was located gave me the ability to acquire knowledge in agriculture easily.  At my young age, I never imagined this type of service was something that could be made available on an international or global scale.  After only a short time in Uganda, I have realized the influence of extension services throughout the country.  There are groups reaching out to the communities through many avenues, e.g. schools, health, and churches.  Being a fellow for FOH, has shown me all the work, passion, and commitment of the people involved with extension work provide to the community.  FOH believes that empowering people with improved agriculture techniques can improve the nutritional security that is needed in areas of Uganda.  I have to say that I agree and that FOH is doing just that.

So far on my journey, I have helped with post-harvest season training and the beginnings of a new project for a smallholder farmer group.  Additionally, I have been able to engage with the staff at FOH about preparation aspects of the projects they do.  I recently explained to a friend back home that extension work (specifically in agriculture) is basically being a liaison of information, some of which can be quite complex.  I further stated that extension takes the research and results available on a topic and turns it into something “digestible” for the consumer (farmer).  Through training and curriculum production, FOH has become a valuable resource as an extension agent to the small-holder farmers and the schools they work with.

If you were to look up the definition of empowerment, you would read that it is “a process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially over one’s life”.  By providing knowledge and training in practical agricultural skills, FOH is empowering the people they serve.  Once these farmers, teachers, or school children learn improved techniques, they are equipped with something that can rarely be lost: knowledge and experience.  Gaining the know-how of a new idea or product can change how efficient production of agriculture for a farmer or student can be.  In agriculture, efficient production leads to overall improvement of life for farmers (or students), whether that means more income, better nutrition, or less time spent on laboring fields.

This past week, I joined David, Joseph, and Hilda at Farm Camp.  I found that this camp was similar to 4-H camp back home.  The camp focuses on teaching students from around the country on production techniques.  FOH had the honor of partnering with the camp leaders and facilitating sessions during the camp.  In the opening ceremony, the camp director stated that 800 students were present, ranging in age from primary through secondary schools.  It was so amazing to see all these students gathered to learn about ways that agriculture can impact their lives and how they can improve their agricultural productivity.  The extension support that FOH gave this camp is just a small portion of their Youth agriculture education pillar.

Through my experience so far, I have learned a better understanding of what empowerment through extension services can mean to a family or a village of people.  I have witnessed how farmers are growing in knowledge on their crop production and practices because of the trainings they participate in.  I am excited that I get to see and be a small part of this organizations mission.

-Angela Hurst, Fellow ’23

THIS is What It’s All About

My morning had an early start with a four-hour drive, followed by learning about organic fertilizers in a room of 50+ high school girls. If you would’ve told me this was what I’d be doing at the age of 23, I probably would’ve thought you were being ridiculous and laughed it off. But here I am, doing this very thing and I stinkin’ love it.

The Field of Hope team was traveling to Jinja to conduct evaluations on the teachers that we partner with, in order to see how well they are adapting to and implementing our teaching approach. Don’t know exactly what that is? Let me fill you in really quick.

Field of Hope has partnered with Vivayic to develop an interactive secondary agricultural education curriculum to get students PUMPED UP about learning and pursuing careers in agriculture. This method contrasts the traditional teaching practices in Uganda, which typically rely solely on theory and memorization. Teachers are trained and equipped using our guidebooks, which then enables them to implement various new techniques to inspire students, such as an engaging interest approach, experiential learning, group projects, etc. In order to ensure the trained methods are being used, Field of Hope conducts teacher-evaluations, where we sit in on agriculture classes to give encouragement and growth feedback to the instructor. In a nutshell, that explains the nature of our trip to Jinja.

Our first stop for evaluations was with Timothy at Iganga Secondary School. Unlike any class I’d seen here before, these girls were HYPED UP about what they were learning. You know when a teacher asks a question and crickets…. Yeah, this wasn’t the case. Almost every student was actively participating, answering questions, repeating what the teacher had said, and just genuinely having fun in the classroom, which is exactly what we love to see!

The lesson included an outdoor demonstration on composting and organic fertilizers, which as you can imagine, got the girls even more excited. As we were walking out, I asked one of them, “Are you this excited about all your classes or is this one your favorite?”

She responded that this was, in fact, her favorite of them all, to which I asked, “Why?”

The young girl said something along the line of “Because I can take what I learn here and be successful at home.”

YES! She got it. Her statement got me so fired up that I wanted to do a little happy dance – but I didn’t, because you’ve gotta play it cool around high schoolers, am I right? Ehhh, who am I kidding, that’s never stopped me before!

This student’s response is precisely why Field of Hope does what it does. THIS is what it’s all about. Why? Because 65.6% of Uganda’s population relies on agriculture in order to provide for their families, yet 66% of households are faced with inadequate food consumption. There is so much room for growth and improvement within the agriculture sector, but kids need to be taught that this CAN be a sustainable and profitable way to live.

And it all starts in the classroom.

How is someone expected to be interested in a subject that they’ve had to do for as long as they can remember, especially when it’s taught in a mundane and “Quick, copy these notes down” type of way. But if agriculture instructors are passionate about teaching it in a way that develops critical thinking, this results in students gaining an increased understanding of modern technologies, acquiring practical agriculture skills, and learning value addition techniques.

And then, it all starts to change.

Slowly, but surely.

Students become aware of the potential to provide for themselves, their family, and their country as their classroom demonstrations translate into successful agriculture businesses down the line.

To see students with this much energy and passion in a class that has recently adapted the FOH guidebook and teaching style, is nothing short of remarkable. I can’t make this stuff up, just look at the joy on their faces!! I believe that Field of Hope IS making a difference in the lives of teachers, of students, of families, and of the entire country of Uganda. By utilizing agriculture development techniques, Field of Hope continues to break down the cycle of hunger and poverty.

                                                     This is what it’s all about.

Adventures in Agriculture: Joyfully Endure

This week the Field of Hope team has been busy busy busy with outreach trainings to the surrounding communities of Lira. On Thursday we went to Otino Waa, a local children’s village, to speak to farmers about agriscience practices. At the start of our meetings, we always begin with prayer, followed by personal introductions, which then segways into the training. On this day in particular, Nicholas (FOH staff) came over to Heather (the other fellow) and I, saying “I need you two to come up with a ten to fifteen minute speech to give these women before we start.” I froze. What?! I didn’t prepare for this! My type A personality was shaking in her boots, as I was completely caught off-guard by this request. Immediately I started rifling through memories, thoughts, experiences in the agriculture industry, ways that I related to this group of women, or really anything I could think of.

I know you know how I was feeling. Have you ever been looking for your wallet because somehow its gone MIA and you’re 97% convinced that it’s been stolen, but you look for it in fervent hope that the other 3% is actually what happened? So you dig through everything you have, searching through bags and under the seats in your car. Notta. Ok, ok don’t freak out yet. You make your way back to Target, thinking maybe it’s still sitting at the self-check-out. Still nothing. In a last ditch effort you drive back to Chick-Fil-A, making sure you didn’t leave it on the counter. Nope, not there. Panic, ok!! I’m allowed to panic now!

THIS WAS ME. Except, in my mind. Frantically searching for words that would fill ten minutes of time, but seemingly coming up empty. Amidst the delusion of my two-minute internal frenzy, I’m not sure how many times it was repeated, but I remember saying “Nicholas, I don’t think I have anything.” Meanwhile, I thought to myself “Sam, you literally never stop talking. WHAT IS YOUR DEAL SISTER??” And then I stopped. Somewhere along my filtering of memories I landed on a phrase that God had taught me earlier this summer. Joyfully endure.


It comes from the verse, 2 Timothy 2:10 which says “For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.” Let me give you some background, Paul is near death, writing from prison, and giving Timothy one final charge. Despite the persecution that Paul’s faced, he says with full confidence that the very thing that landed him in prison (preaching the Gospel) is the reason for why he endures. His purpose is set solely on Jesus and bringing salvation to others through the transforming work of the Gospel.

Paul’s words were powerful to me. As I read the verse over and over, “endure” stood out, almost as if it was bold and italicized. I decided to do a word study and found that when endure or hardship or suffering are mentioned in the bible, a lot of times they are associated with joy or blessing. Why was this? Is enduring a good thing? Because in my mind it wasn’t so much. Think about it. No one wants to struggle or undergo hardship or experience pain. Yet, James 1:2 says “consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” Joy in trials, hmmm. And Hebrews 12:2 says “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Wait, so you’re saying that it was joy for Jesus to experience pain and persecution and death? Precisely. Not joy in the sense of laughing really hard at a perfectly timed joke, but rather a purposeful, eternal joy that results only from obediently following the Father.

In that moment, I knew these were the only words I needed. These women, they didn’t want to hear some thrown together story. They wanted to hear truth. Regardless of the fact that I’m from America and they’re native to Uganda, we’ve all faced challenges even if they may look significantly different from one another. We’ve all had times when we’ve struggled, faced a roadblock, or felt underappreciated for our work. These women can relate all too well, as they tirelessly work in the fields, providing means for their family to survive, not being respected for the exhausting toil they put in day in and day out. But on this Thursday afternoon, God provided hope for them in the form of agriscience education so that their physical labor may be more fruitful. And not only that, but hope through the encouraging words of Paul. That we get to choose joy, despite less than desirable circumstances. We get to live with eternal gratefulness through blissful obedience to our good God. We get to joyfully endure.

~Sam Maloy

Adventures in Agriculture: Stronger (& Better) Together

Interest approaches are commonly used at Field of Hope’s trainings to capture the participants attention and keep them engaged in the lessons. At one of the recent outreach trainings, the interest approach involved sticks. Geoffrey, our trainer had two volunteers come up to the front to participate in a demonstration. One participant received one stick while the other received a handful of sticks. Each person was instructed to try to break the sticks in half.

As expected, the person with only one stick was easily able to break it while the person with the bundle of sticks was unsuccessful. Although the demonstration was conducted in the local language (Luo), no translation was needed. The message was clear: we are stronger together.

Geoffrey was using this concept to emphasize the importance of people joining the Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) in order to work together to boost their savings and increase their purchasing power, but “stronger together” has been a reoccurring theme since I arrived in Uganda. For example, if I tried to coordinate the logistics and conduct the outreach trainings on my own, I would not be very successful. When I work with other team members, everything falls into place and we accomplish our tasks almost effortlessly. Each team member brings a unique set of strengths to the table that enable us to accomplish a variety of tasks. If one person faces an obstacle, another member is able to help fill in the gap to solve help the problem and execute the day’s activities with ease.

This theme reemerged earlier this week on our journey to another location to conduct an outreach training. On the way to this training, our car broke down. When a new car arrived, it did not have enough gas and could not start again. So, myself, another intern, and other team members began pushing the car back onto the road. We were successful together, but if I had tried to push the car back onto the road alone, we would still be there to this day.

The demonstration with the sticks at the outreach training is an important reminder that success is not an individual accomplishment. Instead, success only occurs when a team unites to work on a common goal and when each group member is passionate and motivated to reach that goal. While working with Field of Hope, there is no shortage of passion and motivation. Each member is exceptionally passionate about what they do whether that passion lies within leadership development, community outreach, or youth agricultural education. I am very thankful to be working alongside such passionate and caring people, and I am looking forward to what the next few weeks will bring for Field of Hope in the Pearl of Africa!

~Heather Meador, OSU MIAP, 2019 Fellow

(Photos courtesy of Sam Maloy)

Adventures in Agriculture: What if we all did too?

After arriving in Uganda and spending the night in Kampala, Nicholas (FOH staff) and Sam (two Sam’s woo!) drove me up to Lira. A good seven-hour trek that resulted in lots of laughter, agriculture talk, dreaming, singing, and even some sleeping. Throughout the drive we stopped for lunch, bought roasted sweet plantain from the market, and interrupted a group of baboons crossing the street. One even jumped up in our window! Thanking the Lord that it didn’t jump in mine because that probably would’ve ended with a wild reaction. As if all those experiences weren’t enough, there was quite the VIEW too. Seven hours of incredibly lush scenery contrasted against the deep red dirt of the ground. There is no questioning why Uganda is called the Pearl of Africa.


Besides the vast beauty of God’s creation in this place, I immediately knew there was something more, something undeniably unique about Uganda. It’s the people. Never in my life have I met more welcoming, hospitable, selfless and encouraging humans – and this is only day one!

In trying to understand and know them deeper, I asked Nicholas and Sam what they were most passionate about. In my head I was expecting a career-oriented response, such as becoming a professor or improving agriculture efficiencies. To my surprise, nothing job specific ever came up in the conversation. Nicholas responded that he is passionate about leadership and equipping the younger generations to lead with truth. Meanwhile, Sam’s desire is to serve the community in as many ways as possible. WOW. Can you imagine if everyone in the world had passions that aligned with the wellbeing and empowerment of others, like these two men, rather than selfish goals we so easily tend to run after?

What if? As this two-word question lingered in my mind, it got me thinking. Why? Why did all the Ugandans I met here on my first day care for me and love me so well, considering I was a stranger in their country? You see, friends like Nicholas and Sam care deeply about others because it comes as an overflow of the love that Jesus Christ has already poured out on the cross for us. They’re not just “good” people, because really, are any of us good? No. But they do know a good God. The God who came to serve, not to be served (Matthew 20:28). The God who underwent the most horrific punishment possible, the crucifixion, despite His absolute innocence. The God who loves us so much that He would give up His life so that we can walk in a restored relationship with the Father (1 John 4:9-10).

How do I know faith in Jesus is what motivates Nicholas and Sam? How could I not. Everything they do points back to Him. From the start of our seven-hour journey together, to every meal, to the conclusion of our road trip; it all began in thankful prayer to the Lord. They know His love for us and want others to know it to. That is why Nicholas, Sam, and many other Ugandans I’ve met, are serving as the hands and feet of Jesus right here on earth.

What if we all did too?

Adventures in Agriculture: Time Change

My first two weeks in the Pearl of Africa have been exciting, challenging, but most of all relaxing. It is no secret that flying from the U.S. to Uganda would mean adjusting to a new time zone: 8 hours ahead of my normal schedule to be exact. However, the biggest time change I have experienced here is the Ugandan sense of time. In the U.S., Americans are known for following strict timelines and punctuality is of utmost importance. In Uganda, time is viewed a little differently. Instead of rushing to get places and stressing about time, we enjoy every second of the day.

When I begin to get ready in the mornings, I don’t worry about the extra 5 minutes that I needed to lay in bed and relax, because I know that a departure time of 8:00am really means 8:20am. When we arrive in a village and the villagers haven’t arrived yet, I don’t worry because we have a chance to relax, soak up the sun, and listen to the sounds of nature while we wait for the hardworking villagers to come for trainings. In the end, everything works out. The villagers are always happy to see us and are very welcoming. We are always able to arrive and accomplish our goal of equipping people with the knowledge to succeed in their production practices.

I have always had a laid-back view of time compared to other Americans. My friends and family know that I will be late to any event or gathering that we plan. So, coming to a country where tardiness is not viewed as a flaw has been refreshing. I have enjoyed my first two weeks of slowing down and acclimating to a new sense of time in Uganda, and I’m looking forward to the next few months as I explore Ugandan agriculture.

Adventures in Agriculture: The Secret in Sipi Falls

It was the sweaty seventh mile of the day and I couldn’t have been happier to see a chair with a back and two arm rests waiting for me. I picked up my feet a little faster as I quickly approached the chair anxiously awaiting the moment of rest. With a loud thud and an exhale of relief I plopped down and began rubbing my calves wondering how long ago it had been since my last hiking adventure. Because I couldn’t remember where or when it had occurred, I concluded it was obviously a long time ago.

An elderly man slightly bent over and frail looking slowly came out of his mud hut and Alex, our guide, introduced him to us as Mike. With just about as perfect English as I’ve heard in Uganda, Mike welcomed us to his home. He sat down beside Mackenzie and I and shared that he was going to tell us a secret today. The secret that so many people around the world don’t know, but love at the very same time. We were about to learn how farmers help people all around the world wake up.

I like so many people in this world, love a good cup of coffee and was thrilled that this man, who seemed to have the “secret” was going to share it with us muzungus (white people)!

His hand slid toward, what I later found out were, coffee beans off the table into his opposite palm. He said follow me to begin the journey! We followed Mike to the garden where he dug a shallow hole and asked us to scatter our beans throughout the hole. After covering the hole with dirt he explained that in three months the seeds will produce two little leaves and will be big enough to take out of the ground and put into the nursery. He took us to a cool covered and shaded area full of small round plastic bags holding seedlings that were about 4 inches tall.

Emma with FOH Volunteer, Mackenzie, and coffee farmer Mike.

After seedlings in the plastic bags resemble little trees they are put directly into the ground and the farmer waits for three years. The fruit coffee trees produce after are called cherries and Mike knows they are ready for harvesting when they turn bright red.

Coffee must be harvested by hand because it’s delicate. Coffee cherries are attached to the tree by a small stem that resembles stems in grapes. If the harvester removes the stem from the tree, no cherries will ever produce from that stem again. Therefore, coffee harvesting requires thoughtful and careful hands to pick the best fruit!

Mike took his harvested cherries to the pulper which separates the husks from the coffee beans inside of the cherry. These coffee beans are khaki in color and resemble small peanuts!

These small peanut looking beans also have a husk which must be removed. Mike does this by placing the beans in the mortar and uses a pistil which hits the beans and removes the husks. Mike pours it all together on a plate. He so delicately tosses the contents of the plate up into air and blows the tiny pieces of the husks off of the plate onto the ground. I naively thought I could do the same. Just imagine a chicken pecking at a worm on the ground. That’s what I looked like when he handed me the plate and I tried to toss the contents of the plate into the air without dumping them all on the ground and blowing away the husks all at the same time!

The next step of getting the coffee a little closer to our cup is where the magic happens: Roasting! Coffee roasters have the unique ability to makes each cup of coffee in the world different. Mike poured our beans into a pot over an open fire and stirred constantly for about 7 minutes. In order to create Medium Roast coffee, he suggested roasting over the open fire for 7-12 minutes. The beans were completely black and resembled what I buy in the US!

This is where some coffee producer’s job is complete because some coffee connoisseurs prefer to buy the beans whole while some prefer grounds. To drink our coffee with Mike, we then poured the beans into the mortar and crushed them with the pistil to make coffee grounds. Minutes later we enjoyed a fresh cup of joe with our new friend Mike!

He explained to us that he is a member of a cooperative called Ndiyo, which means Yes in Swahili. His and other farmers from his cooperative’s coffee can be bought from Farm Mountain Coffee. Mike grows Arabica coffee, which suits his cooler mountainous Sipi Falls climate best.  This type of coffee was first discovered in Eastern Uganda and taken to Arabic nations who gave it the name Arabica. Coffee is Uganda’s leading exporter and Uganda ranks 8th worldwide for coffee production.

As I wrapped my little fingers around Mike’s mug, I drank the freshly made cup of hot coffee. I couldn’t help but take in the smell of freshly ground beans. I looked around and realized that this was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I was in the cool and crisp mountains of Uganda learning the entire story, from seed to sipping, how the coffee reaches the cup. I was talking with a small holder farmer who works tirelessly to provide for his family and gives “coffee tours” on the side to interested tourists like myself. I realized I couldn’t get any closer to the source of how the world begins to wake up everyday with a nice cup of coffee. Mike, like many other farmers, provide people all around the world with a commodity that we drink daily without ever realizing what it takes to produce. I felt incredibly blessed to meet just one of the many men and women behind the magic and creation of coffee. The secrets that lie deep within the mountains of Sipi smell ever so sweet!

Emma and Mackenzie at Sipi Falls.


Adventures in Agriculture: Katie’s Ugandan Bucket List

Ugandan Bucket List

It feels like I was just boarding the plane to get to Uganda with high anticipation of what the next three months would bring. Now I’m on the plane to depart, reflecting on my time in the Pearl of Africa.

In recent years, my parents have been into checking things off their bucket list. Since my first blog post was about how my parents inspired me to go to Africa, I find it fitting that they have inspired me to create a Ugandan bucket list.

Katie and her Sunday School class.
  1. Enjoy the sound of rain on a tin roof
  2. Go to a wedding
  3. Hug a stranger
  4. “Path” cinnamon roll
  5. The school children yell “bye” as you walk by
  6. Safari at Murchison Falls
  7. Get recruited to teach Sunday school
  8. Eat lots of fresh produce: pineapple, mangos, watermelon and jackfruit
  9. Eat posho and beans with your hands
  10. Learn about fire ants (hopefully not the hard way that’s complimented by a I-have-ants-in-my-skirt-dance)
  11. Try Uganda’s soft drinks: Mirinda, Novida, Stoney, Krest (to name a few)
  12. Get an African dress or skirt made
  13. Enjoy living where time moves a little slower
  14. Let walking become your new favorite mode of transportation
  15. Be greeted with a big smile and a wave from passer-bys
  16. Be greeted with a big hug and “welcome back” when returning to the hotel after leaving for the day.
  17. Attempt to learn how to carry something on your head
  18. Observe an agricultural class
  19. Gain lots of new friends (trust me, it is not hard to do)
  20. Fall in love with Uganda
Katie with the Alpha staff.

I cannot thank the people of Uganda enough for welcoming me into their country, their communities, and their homes with open arms. I am so thankful for this experience, the memories made, the lessons learned, and the new friends that have been gained. Most of the people that I said goodbye to asked me when I will be returning – I will be praying for that day to come.

Last memories in Uganda.

Adventures in Agriculture: Adventuring in the Pearl

One of Field of Hope’s core values is adventure — having fun and being challenged on the journey. Which my time in Uganda has had no short coming of adventure along with some challenges. From long car rides on rough roads that make my stomach turn to almost (unknowingly) eating a gizzard, this usually results in a good laugh or a sweet moment to follow.

Some of my favorite memories I have made so far are at the trainings we’ve had with the smallholder farmers groups in very rural parts of Uganda. The purpose of training is to better understand what a cooperative group is and how the group dynamics work within them. The leaders of the trainings, Patrick and Walter, went through various activities that covered topics such as being stronger in numbers, thinking outside of the box and learning how different personalities work in a group. “Knowledge is power” is a phrase that has also been reiterated throughout the training. Taking advantage of these learning opportunities will empower these groups, strengthen them and eventually create economic growth within their communities.

The local language of Luo is used for communication at these trainings and most of the community members know little to no English. Learning a foreign language has never been one of my strengths and I have pretty much only learned the word “Apwoyo” which luckily for me doubles as a greeting and a thank you. Even though communication can be a challenge, it has all been part of what has made this trip even more of an adventure. I have loved to see how much can be communicated without words and I have learned that a smile can go a long way.

In between these trainings, I had the opportunity to go on a safari adventure. This country continues to amaze me with its beauty. I am trying to soak up every minute I’m blessed to be living in the Pearl of Africa.

Adventures in Agriculture: Making Friends in Unlikely Places

One thing that has come pretty easy in Uganda is making friends. The people here are so kind and welcoming. I was walking back to my hotel from a local cafe, one day, when a woman greeted me and started talking to me. I quickly realized that she only knew a handful of English words and she could only speak in the local language of Luo. We carried on a conversation with hand gestures. She was making a gesture like she was writing and I could figure out that she was asking me if I was a teacher. I replied, “No, agriculture”.

She said, “Oh, agriculture! Apwoyo! Apwoyo! (thank you, thank you).”

She was so genuinely excited and grateful that I was here working with agriculture, and I have to say I am too!

My excitement for Ugandan agriculture heightened this past week. We started off the week with having 11 leaders from different communities throughout Northern Uganda, come to Lira for a subject matter expert training (SME). They learned a variety of different topics from soil management to sunflower agronomy to managing pest like the fall army worm. These community leaders are trained then expected to train the members in their community. It was so inspiring to see lively discussions (even though they were mostly speaking in Luo), about bettering their small communities through agriculture.

Then later in the week I had the opportunity to go to the Harvest Money Expo in Uganda’s capital city of Kampala. There were hundreds of vendors and thousands of participants, all interested in the future of Ugandan agriculture. I had the chance to sit in on sessions about urban agriculture, bee keeping and vegetable growing. One of these biggest takeaways for me was from the bee keeping presentation. The speaker said “be open to fellow farmers because we are all trying to meet customer demand.” Such a great simple reminder that we are all in this together.

The lady I met on the road was right to be excited about agriculture – there’s a lot of exciting things happen in Uganda agriculture!