Gonzalo Rojas-Cifuentes, assistant director of North Dakota Foundation Seedstocks, was awarded the prestigious President’s Volunteer Service Award for contributing more than 350 hours of volunteer work in Guinea, West Africa, in September 2017. Established in 2002 by former President George W. Bush, the award recognizes American volunteers who inspire others.
Rojas volunteered for Winrock International, an organization that engages individuals to help provide technical assistance and training to various United States Agency for International Development programs. He spent time in Guinea, West Africa, as a volunteer for the USAID’s Agriculture Education and Market Improvement Program.
Rojas provided training for faculty and students at the Institute Superior of Agronomy and Veterinary of Faranah, Guinea’s only agricultural university. The objective was to present information about plant breeding and selection for yield, diseases, submergence tolerance, quality and taste in rice, which is a staple food in Guinea.
“This was a fantastic experience,” said Rojas. “To be able to share knowledge with faculty and students at the ISAV/F was very good. To see and learn about how their communities work regarding land distribution and crop practices was very important. It allowed me to prepare recommendations based on their own practices, instead of what we do in the United States.”
The President’s Volunteer Service Award is an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service and administered by Points of Light. Recipients receive a personalized certificate, an official pin, medallion or coin and a congratulatory letter from the President.
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