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Talented Egyptian students speak at Ag Technical School near Luxor using PowerPoint.

Tonight I’m watching a beautiful sunset overlooking the Nile with a clear view of the 3,500 year-old Giza Pyramids in Cairo. My last evening here includes the sounds of water lapping at the shores of the longest river in the world as the Muslim call to prayer is playing over the city and the din of traffic echoes off of the high rises above it all. In a city of 18 million that loves their horns and believes driving lanes are mere suggestions, this country girl has yet to find a time of day when car noises aren’t the dominant sound here.

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Typical classroom at an Ag Technical School. Computer lab provided by USAID brough new levels of interaction to these students & increased attendance.

My second trip to Egypt is ending with a quiet sense of satisfaction. As a professional speaker, my greatest sense of achievement comes from seeing lives change and knowing the ripple effect of those people on others. My work  here over the last two weeks has focused on the MUCIA USAID project to build an agriculture technical school system in Egypt system similar to FFA and agriculture education in the U.S.  Training agricultural technical school teachers in speaking and writing skills has been the focus, as well as some strategic planning for the MUCIA. Dr. Kirk Heinze (my partner in this project) and I found our efforts in six days of workshops rewarded as we watched the teachers enthusiastically integrate these skills into their lesson plans. Yet the greatest reward is in knowing how they will inspire students. And inspired students will change agriculture.

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Corn harvest by a small Egyptian farmer. Maize, sugar cane and cabbage were most common crops in Luxor area.

Why does this matter to other parts of the world? It’s fairly simple; the empowerment of individuals to improve agriculture benefits all of us. Whether a family is farming a hectare in Luxor, Egypt or 1000 acres in Lebanon, Indiana – they deserve to be empowered with the best techniques for feeding people and growing their business. Moreover, it’s important that we all understand the people with little experience and material goods tend to grow far more than many closed minds in developed countries.

As an American, I feel a responsibility to help developing countries with their agriculture. If you question the validity of modern food production or have never been reminded of the privilege it is to live in total freedom, I highly recommend a trip overseas. Beyond the gratitude you’ll learn for your nation, you’ll also find commonalities with farmers round the world sharing similar concerns (just on different scales), humility for the luxurious conditions in which we operate in developed countries and appreciation for the entrepreneurial spirit so prevalent throughout North America.

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Fields in the fertile Nile Valley. The green stops where the water stops.

Regardless of your location in the world, what are you doing to empower others? WhenI see a young lady with considerably fewer material goods or technical training in a rural school in Egypt speak with the same talent as her U.S. peers., I know without a doubt that empowerment is far more than my words. It’s about the action of everyone I have the privilege of helping. I’m thankful for the opportunity to assist with the growth agriculture education in Egypt and gain more perspective on empowering others.

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Hauling livestock in Egypt is a different story. Wonder if the animal rights groups would like to compare safe conditions farmers in developed countries provide?

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