STARKVILLE, Miss.--Through separate summer internships with the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization, three Mississippi State students will be helping people around the world achieve food security.
Selected to work with FAO regional offices are Victoria L. Hall of Newton, Ohio, a third-year veterinary medicine major at the university; senior business administration major Casie E. Leavell of Moody, Ala.; and junior Shelly L. Johnston of Mount Olive, a food science, nutrition and health promotion major.
Mississippi State is one of only two institutions currently selected to participate in the highly selective internship program. Made possible through collaboration between the university's International Institute and the FAO, the internships of up to $4,000 each help participants cover travel, lodging and food costs.
The FAO was created to help ensure regular access to high-quality food sufficient to lead active, healthy lives. It works to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations, and contribute to the growth of the world economy.
"MSU was selected as a participant due to our dedication as a globally engaged university," said Benjy Mikel, associate vice president of international programs and International Institute executive director.
"As one of two institutions, we are committed to sending our best and brightest minds around the globe as ambassadors to the world," he added.
The University of Minnesota is the other participating institution.
Through the regional office for Asia and the Pacific, Hall will work in Vietnam on wildlife farming-related issues. Assisting the chief veterinary officer of the Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Disease Operations, she will help create a manual of standards and guidelines to keep food producers and their animals safe.
"Using veterinary medicine to help people and animals in other nations is what I'm really passionate about," Hall said.
Johnston will travel to Santiago, Chile, to join the regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean. She will be working to support the FAO's 2013 international promotion strategy of quinoa, an important grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds.
"My career plans and this internship mirror one another very well, and I am blessed to have been given this opportunity to gain invaluable experience as well as represent my university on a global scale," Johnston said.
Leavell also will work in Santiago to promote and coordinate activities for FAO's 2014 "International Year of Family Farming" program.
The internships are part of MSU's continuing commitment to making an impact on a global scale, said Lokesh Shivakumaraiah, interim manager of the international education program.
"Students such as these are Mississippi's good-will ambassadors abroad," he said. "Study-abroad programs and overseas internships also help our students expand their worldview by getting to know other cultures first-hand, extend knowledge and provide an opportunity for our students to address some of the world's most challenging problems."