The American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA) is organizing a Cuba Ag Communicators Learning Mission this fall. This is the first ag mission of this type to a communist country by U.S. ag journalists. AAEA’s Professional Improvement Foundation (PIF) will award $2,000 stipends – covering half the trip cost – to the members who participate in the trip. To apply for a stipend, applicants must be a member of AAEA.
Stipend information is now available on the AAEA website (www.ageditors.com) and applications will be accepted until Feb. 29. AAEA is the first ag communications organization in North America to offer this type of mission, expressly designed for ag communicators. The program has been designed for a small group of 10 to 20 participants.
Applications will be reviewed by a former international state department media specialist knowledgeable in agriculture and trade relations with foreign countries. The five-day program will include a wide range of visits to farms, farmers’ cooperatives, processing facilities, a wholesale market and supermarket, as well as meetings with Cuban officials, U.S. State Department diplomats, agricultural economists from the University of Havana and journalists covering Cuba agriculture.
“We believe it’s vital that our members see first-hand what re-opening trade relations with Cuba will mean for farmers and other ag organizations and companies here in the U.S.,” says Kelly Schwalbe, chair of the AAEA foundation. “These stipends are open to ag editors, freelancers and other ag communicators who write every day for various audiences – from farmers to consumers and many others.”
AAEA is partnering with an ag tour organization with extensive connections and experience in Cuba. The organization works closely with the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba, a coalition of government, farm organizations and agribusinesses created to improve ag trade between the U.S. and Cuba.
“A mission of this magnitude will take many months to organize,” adds Schwalbe. “We will use the second quarter of this year to get the appropriate documentation approved by the U.S. and Cuban governments. The mission will occur in September or October.” The likely timeframe will be a six-day window between Sept. 18 through Sept. 26 or Oct. 2 through Oct. 15.
Schwalbe says the goal of PIF is to provide professional improvement opportunities to its members. “We learn each day about the global aspects of agriculture through our affiliation with the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists. This is an extension of our ability to connect our members with other countries,” says Schwalbe.
The total cost of the mission is $4,000. Thus, the foundation stipends will cover half of the cost of the Cuban trip. Visit www.ageditors.com or contact Executive Director Den Gardner at the AAEA office at [email protected] (phone: 952/758-6502) for more information.
AAEA is a professional association for agricultural editors, writers, photographers, designers and other ag communications professionals with more than 470 members in the U.S. and Canada.