Name: Frank Wertheim
Current title/profession: Associate Extension Professor in Agriculture/Horticulture at the University of Maine (UMaine)
Name of project: Farmer-to-Farmer East Africa
Location of the project: Tanzania
Organization that sent the volunteer: International Executive Service Corps (IESC)
As a first-time volunteer, Frank Wertheim, an Associate Extension Professor in Agriculture/Horticulture at the University of Maine (UMaine), has demonstrated his unmatched commitment to the F2F program through his assignment and continued support to his host organization as well as his tremendous outreach efforts. In September 2019, Frank traveled to Mkongo Village in Tanzania to support You Spices Enterprise, a youth cooperative, to conduct a horticulture agronomy training. In addition to the training he delivered, Frank also completed many visits to crop sites to gather soil to be analyzed by the Tanzanian Agriculture Research Institute (TARI). These tests allowed You Spices and TARI to identify the corrective soil management practices needed to optimize growth as well as cover crops to provide a suitable environment for the soil and crops. Frank has been an integral part to the growth of You Spices since his return to the U.S. as he has continued staying in touch with them. He was also set to embark on his second F2F assignment in March 2020 to support You Spices Enterprises, but this assignment was put on hold due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Upon his return to the U.S., Frank executed several outreach activities on the behalf of the F2F Program and shared his experience with a wide U.S. audience. His outreach activities included five (5) public presentations and five (5) publications. Although IESC typically requests that F2F volunteers conduct one to three outreach activities post-assignment, Frank went above and beyond this goal by completing ten (10) outreach activities and counting. One of his most well-attended presentations was made at UMaine Extension Office. With his focus and dedication to outreach through his role at UMaine, Frank has seamlessly incorporated F2F and the importance of cross-cultural exchange into these activities too. From his experience supporting You Spices in Tanzania and collaborating with TARI, Frank has also been able to present and teach the importance and effects of his findings in the agriculture and horticulture undergraduate courses he conducts.
With the support Frank has provided to You Spices, the cooperative has been able to become more effective and sustainable in their farming practices to build their capacity, promote economic growth within their organization and communities, and increase livelihoods. Frank’s continued commitment and passion will grow these communities as well as educate U.S. agricultural students on the importance of cross-cultural collaboration and creating sustainable solutions for generations to come.
Written by International Executive Service Corps (IESC)