62 honored at USDA headquarters for their efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan
WASHINGTON, June 27, 2012 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently recognized the efforts of 62 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees who have helped revitalize the agricultural sectors in Afghanistan and Iraq. Among those honored during a ceremony June 4 was Kathy Gunderman of Rockmart, Ga., who served as an agricultural advisor in Kapisa Province, Afghanistan, and as a communications specialist at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul from 2010 to 2012.
“I’m honored to recognize these brave and devoted men and women for their tremendous service to the people of Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Vilsack. “These USDA employees have played a vital role in furthering political and social stability throughout the world by building a foundation on which the economies of these countries will prosper.”
USDA agricultural advisors began serving in Afghanistan in 2003 and Iraq in 2006. Their goal has been to help Afghanistan and Iraq rebuild their agricultural sectors by planning and implementing reconstruction and agricultural development projects. Activities vary depending on the needs of the area, but can range from mentoring local agricultural officials to improving food and animal production and marketing systems to veterinary infrastructure, soil and water conservation, and reclamation programs. Advisors working at the national government level help build the capacity of government ministries and collaborate with ministry staff to develop long-term strategies for agricultural development.
In Afghanistan, Gunderman worked with the Afghan provincial agricultural director to develop poultry and beekeeping programs for women. She collaborated with a local doctor to develop a program aimed at children stung by caterpillars. The insect’s sting can be painful and cause death. While in Kabul, Gunderman wrote and distributed the agriculture newsletter AG Gazette, which highlighted success stories and provided information to U.S. military and civilian personnel in the field. Although recently retired, Gunderman was a program manager in Washington, DC, with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management as well as USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Raised in Rockmart, Ga., Gunderman received a Bachelor of Science degree from Berry College in Mt. Berry, Ga., with a major in animal science and industrial education. Her agricultural expertise is in animal science, natural resource management and agronomy.
Since 2003, more than 250 USDA personnel have deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. More than 50 agricultural advisors are currently assigned there.
To learn more about USDA’s efforts in those countries, visit www.fas.usda.gov.
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