The Road to Markets and Its Role in Rural Development

In mid-February, the Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council hosted five visitors from Colombia as part of an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) project titled “The Road to Markets and its Role in Rural Development.”  These visitors were in the country to look at the themes of agricultural and rural development.

The group arrived on a bus from Mobile, Alabama, their previous stop.  Along the way, they stopped in Fairhope where volunteer Pam Cahill joined them for lunch and led them on a walking tour of the historic downtown.

The first meeting in Pensacola was at City Hall where Councilman Dr. P.C. Wu welcomed the IVLP visitors, gave an overview of the region and local government, and presented certificates of honorary citizenship with the city.

The visitors then spent almost a full day with the Escambia County Extension Service for a discussion of their services for rural communities and a subsequent farm visit to Steve’s Farm where farmer Darren Hiebert gave a tour.  Extension Agent Libbie Johnson arranged the visit and accompanied the visitors on their exploration of the county as did Extension Director Nick Simmons. It was a special treat having extension agents Angela Hinkle, Dorothy Lee, Aly Schortinghouse, and Carrie Stevenson join Libbie and Nick at the discussion at the Extension Service offices.

During a trip to Tate High School, Agricultural Education teachers Melissa Gibbs and Austin Courson spoke about the program’s curriculum and introduced the visitors to student members of the Future Farmers of America program.  After discussion and student presentations, everyone headed outside to explore the school’s working farm where students raise livestock and learn animal husbandry techniques.

The visitors’ final appointment in Pensacola was with representatives of the Escambia County Development Services Department and focused on land-use zoning and permitting in rural areas.  Department Director Horace Jones and representatives Andrew Holmer, Charlie Gonzalez, Juan Lemos, and John Fisher shared their work with the IVLP group.

The Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council thanks everyone who contributed to the success of this project!

Visiting Steve’s Farm