Global Food Challenge Emerging Leader Katie Atkins: Gaining new perspective

Friday, September 29, 2017 - 4:15pm

Katie Atkins, ‘19, spent a day helping to build a classroom at a village on Mount Meru in Arusha, Tanzania.

In June, Katie Atkins, ’19, who is majoring in management information systems and finance, was one of four U of M students to travel to South Africa and Tanzania to learn more about hunger, agriculture, and sustainability through the Land O’Lakes’ Global Food Challenge Emerging Leaders program.

Atkins gained important new perspectives on her trip: “My morning cup of coffee is now met with images of a smallholder farmer on the outskirts of Kilimanjaro picking every bean by hand,” she says. And, after learning that 25 percent of South Africans do not have opportunities for employment, she has a new appreciation for her work. “Attending the University of Minnesota has never felt more like a privilege. There is unmeasurable value to this new way of thinking and the role it will play in my future.”

“I also learned that people are powerful,” she says. “Halfway around the world, simple actions require an enormous amount of consideration. What the people in Tanzania and South Africa seem to lack in comparison with our everyday lives is made up for by their resilience and drive.”

During the year-long program, students like Atkins work with Land O’Lakes to find new ways to feed the world using fewer resources. “Land O’Lakes is leveraging its resources to not only help but also to empower people,” she observed. “The most impressive part was the work done to ensure that even after they’re gone, these efforts are capable of operating on their own. I am proud to be a part of this company and to have learned the importance of meaningful work.”

Photo courtesy of Katie Atkins