Lynda Swenson during one of her assignments with IESC in Egypt. Photo: VEGA
On December 5, International Volunteer Day, the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) honored IESC volunteer Lynda Swenson with its 2016 Volunteer of the Year Award.
VEGA’s award selection committee chose to recognize Swenson due to her extensive history of volunteering—which includes over 50 volunteer assignments in the last 10 years.
“I am not a wealthy person who can donate dollars,” Swenson said. “I can, however, donate my time and energy.”
Swenson, a former banking professional with extensive experience in finance, credit, business management, and training, focuses her assignments on supporting economic and agricultural development.
Much of her volunteering has been for the John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer Program—a 30-year-old USAID initiative that draws upon the expertise of U.S. volunteers to help developing countries and emerging economies strengthen their agricultural sectors.
In 2016, Swenson took on four assignments with IESC’s Middle East and North Africa Farmer-to-Farmer Program, which aims to to enhance food safety and quality and increase access to rural finance in Egypt and Lebanon.
During these assignments, which included activities such as facilitating financial management training for organizations involved in economic and agricultural development, Swenson provided direct assistance to 70 people, and indirect assistance to many more.
Because of her dedication, knowledge, and strong relationships with her in-country hosts, she has been asked to return to Egypt and Lebanon to complete additional assignments, including one in Egypt before the end of 2016.
“I am a believer in a world where everyone shares information, so that collective knowledge increases,” said Swenson. “I learn something new every day I am volunteering.”
Swenson says she hopes to complete at least 50 more volunteer assignments over the next ten years.
“The friends I have made and continue to know are priceless.”
IESC is a leading member of the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA). IESC is partnering with Land O’Lakes to implement the MENA Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program, which aims to generate rapid, sustained, and broad-based economic growth in the agricultural sector by directly assisting more than 10,000 clients across the region.