NC State Employee Highlights His Work Within CALS International Programs

WRITTEN BY: Olivia Rogers (

This interview has been edited for clarity

Ofstehage has been with CALS International Programs since September 2022. He is the program coordinator for the Global Academy which focuses on organizing various programs and training programs for researchers, professionals and students. He works to connect international partners with CALS researchers to improve mutually beneficial learning environments. In the past, Ofstehage has studied farmer-field schools in Ghana, fair-trade coffee farming in Peru, small-scale quinoa production in Bolivia, large-scale soy production in Brazil and no-till crop production in the United States. He says, “In each of these cases I’ve been fascinated by the creativity of farmers and the implications of different cultural, economic and ecological factors.”

What does your job entail?

My work involves organizing training programs based on the expertise of CALS faculty and researchers that are directed toward a global audience. This includes USDA programs like the Cochran Program which we compete for and private training programs that we arrange for research institutions, universities and private companies. I also help develop online training programs.


What led you to work in this field?

I grew up on a small farm in South Dakota, and I’ve always been around agriculture. I studied agronomy at South Dakota State University. I then pursued a master’s degree in applied anthropology at Wageningen University in the Netherlands to understand the social side of agriculture. Following Wageningen, I pursued a Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where I used environmental anthropology methods to understand agricultural production. I continued my work as a postdoc in Development Sociology at Cornell University. My dual training in agriculture and social sciences speaks to my curiosity about the connections between culture and agriculture that produce the diversity of farming we see in the world today. My work at NC State allows me to connect researchers, professionals, professors and students to help identify cutting-edge solutions to local challenges.


What is unique about your position?

I get to meet so many great people at NC State and around the world. To coordinate training programs, I work with faculty and researchers across campus who share their expertise. Each training involves a new group of professionals who bring their own set of experiences. In past trainings, I’ve learned about almond import requirements, the challenges of raising dairy cows in Egypt and how to say “Let’s go!” in Arabic.


How is your work important to you and NC State?

NC State’s motto is “Think and Do.” Our office works to bring these together. My work helps accomplish NC State’s land grant mission by bringing the knowledge of NC State faculty and researchers to the public. These training programs also act as a knowledge exchange in which NC State faculty and researchers learn about different experiences that our trainees bring from their home countries which have different ecologies, regulatory environments and markets. These trainings build the global reputation of our university by showcasing the best we have to offer.


In terms of successes, which accomplishments are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my work in coordinating our training on tree nut and dried fruit markets in California. This was my first training at NC State, and it was complicated because we hosted it entirely in California. Not only did we accomplish the training objectives and receive extremely favorable feedback, but we also had a lot of fun together and built lasting relationships.


What is the best or most fulfilling part of your job?

I enjoy working with my colleagues and NC State researchers as well as the grant writing process, but the most fulfilling part of my job is connecting people and providing actionable, hands-on trainings to achieve progress towards meeting grand global challenges at the face-to-face level. Each training brings together people who have never been in the same room before, but have a lifetime of experience working on similar challenges. Seeing people connect over challenges, and more importantly, solutions, is the driving force behind my work.