Career & Education

Beyond the Crown: Safiya Clennon wants to grow minds, not just food

Sunday, August 06, 2017

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Safiya Clennon handed over the crown to the 2017 National Farm Queen at the Denbigh Agricultural Show grounds in Clarendon yesterday, marking not the end, but the continuation of what she describes as a rewarding journey.

The 22-year-old, an agricultural science teacher at Wait-A-Bit All-Age School in Trelawny, sought to improve student's knowledge of agricultural best practices and broaden their exposure to the field during her tenure. But she had to pause the mission in April this year, when she took up a two-month scholarship to study the development of the bamboo industry in China.

Now that she has returned to the island, she plans to pick up right where she left off, executing a farm king and queen competition at the school, which will run for six weeks and will see students learning how to manage their plant from seed to harvest. They will be required to maintain a record of all their activities and make a presentation at the end of the process.

“What I realised is that even though they are from a farming community, they don't understand best practices. They just do what their parents and grandparents showed them how to do and it's not always the best or the right thing to do. In essence, it would aid their personal development, add to their knowledge of agriculture, and help them as a person to grow,” Clennon said of her planned project.

Also, she said, although the school is located in a farming community, its involvement in agriculture was limited. She decided to change that.

“I managed the 4-H Club and we worked assiduously to establish school gardens and do projects in and around the school and the community,” Clennon said.

She explained that after getting the students involved in these agricultural activities they went on to participate in the 4-H competitions. The students did well, copping prizes at both the parish and the national levels, and placing in the finals of the 4-H National School Garden Competition.

Clennon's reach also extended to the community.

“I helped them with promotions. We talked to the students and we tried to make relations with the parents and farmers within the community. When we had projects to do on campus, we asked the local police youth club to come in and give us a hand,” she explained.

She was also very actively involved in two activities spearheaded by the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) — Eat Jamaica Day in November and Farmer's Month in April.

She plans to continue working with the JAS, specifically on the bamboo project.

“As a woman in agriculture I think my calling is truly in the classroom, so I do plan to stay in the classroom and do as much as I can to mould the minds of the younger generation and to encourage them and let them see that agriculture is not just dirty work,” Clennon noted.

Clennon was crowned the 53rd National Farm Queen last August. As part of her prize package, she pursued an Associate Degree in General Agriculture or Agricultural Education at the College of Agriculture, Science & Education on full scholarship. She also received a two-week exchange programme from Delaware State University which she will take up later this year.

Describing her journey as national farm queen as a life-changing experience, Clennon says it has been one of the better things that has happened to her.

“It has taught me a lot and it has helped me to grow as a person and I am truly grateful for that. I have been exposed to so many things. I actually travelled across the world,” she said.

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