King recognized for volunteer work

By CATHRYN CARTWRIGHT,

Yazoo County native Joanna King was recently honored with Winrock International's President's Volunteer Service Award, a prestigious national honor for volunteer service.

Joanna is the daughter of Tammy King of Bentonia, and attended school in the Yazoo County School District before graduating from the Mississippi School of Math and Science in 2011.

Joanna currently resides in Dallas, Texas, where she is employed in digital marketing for Agriculture Technology Startups.

Joanna said that she was inspired to become a volunteer at a young age because of the efforts of 4-H volunteers, educators, and community members who helped her to pursue her interests growing up.

"I want to follow in their footsteps and invest my time in advancing the well-being of people across the globe by applying my experience in agribusiness," she said.

Joanna became involved with the Farmer-to-Farmer Program, one of the many international service programs operated by Winrock International, through the United States Agency for International Development.

Joanna's volunteer assignment sent her to Senegal, a developing country in West Africa.  There she was able to help resident farmers build knowledge and skills in business planning, which will help them grow and enhance their farming business and improve the local economy.

"This volunteer assignment was rewarding both personally and professionally," Joanna said. "I was able to expand my worldview to understand the Senegalese culture while also exercising the knowledge I've acquired through my formal education and my professional career."

Joanna experienced the Senegalese lifestyle firsthand as they opened their homes and villages to her and shared certain aspects of their culture, as well as the challenges of their farming operations.

"I found it particularly interesting that women were more involved in agricultural operations in Senegal than men," she said. "Women were typically the ones responsible for all aspects of the farming business from production to processing to marketing."

Joanna also noted that women in Senegal also play an integral part of the agricultural landscape by leading the family farming operations and by holding leadership roles in agricultural associations.

Joanna said that her international experience changed her perspective of the world.

"During my time in Senegal, I gained an appreciation for their culture's traditions and slower pace of life," she said.

Joanna said that she feels honored to be recognized for her volunteer work, and hopes that the efforts of her assignment in Senegal will be expanded by future volunteers.

"I hope to continue volunteering on agriculture development assignments," she said. "I was especially impressed with Winrock's seamless organization of the assignment, the prioritization of safety, and emphasis on projects that will have a sustainable impact."

Joanna said that Winrock International has a broad spectrum of volunteer opportunities available at any given time, including assignments around education, production, medicine, and more.

For information about the Farmer-to-Farmer Program, or to learn about other volunteer opportunities with Winrock International, visit www.winrock.org.