NC State Hosts USDA Borlaug Mentor Workshop

CALS International Programs hosted a Borlaug mentor workshop event on June 14 and 15, 2022 which was attended by 25 Borlaug mentors from 19 different universities across the US and one USDA-ARS station; and included four NC State past and future mentors. Dr. Jay Jayratne from Department of Agriculture and Human Services moderated the sessions, while each mentor made a brief presentation describing their own experience.

Specifically past mentors elaborated on their experience of being a Borlaug mentor by delineating problems, issues, challenges of the program and they were resolved; strengths and weaknesses of the program, outcomes and impacts; collaborative research partnership and
professional relationships that may have arisen as a result of the fellowship; and their recommendations about the program in general. This gave the mentors a chance to reflect on their own experiences but also create collective knowledge around the program. This provided
the new mentors with the perfect opportunity to learn from the collective knowledge in preparation for their fellowship. Additionally, the new mentors also laid out their expectations from the program: short, mid, and long term. The moderated sessions allowed the mentors to
reach consensus regarding the successes, challenges, and recommendations. The mentors largely expressed their satisfaction regarding the outcomes of the program, while identifying the aspects of the program that can be improved upon, either by USDA-FAS or
individual mentors.

A team from USDA Foreign Agriculture Services (FAS) was also present at the event to hear first-hand from the mentors. The FAS team also outlined their expectations and their rubrics for success for such a program. The event gave both the funding agency and the recipients of the grants a platform to exchange views openly and have clear communication. Given that NC State has successfully hosted Borlaug fellows in each successive years since 2017, this was an insightful experience for the team to hear directly from such a large group of Borlaug mentors with varied backgrounds and expertise to identify issues mentors and fellows frequently face and how to best tackle those. Overall, the mentors expressed high satisfaction with the well-organized event and opined that these should be continue to be conducted periodically to take stock of everyone’s experience.