Spotlight Stout

Service Learning for Women participants, Chikondi Chabvuta, Malawi;
Maeza Abawari, Ethiopia; and Anabela Manhica, Mozambique;
meet NMSU President Barbara Couture and program sponsor Linda Stout.
     Service Learning for Women participants sample New Mexico green and red chile
     with James Ditmore, marketing specialist for NMDA.

Linda Stout Demonstrates the “Power of One”

In 2010 Linda Stout of Grand Junction, CO, approached the College of Agricultural, Environmental and Consumer Sciences (ACES) with the idea of creating a full tuition “Second Chance” scholarship for an undergraduate woman studying in that college. The goal was to support someone who lost a previous scholarship award but now demonstrated renewed focus on studies by bringing her GPA up to 3.0.  She named the award in memory of her father, Victor P. Stout, the son of homesteaders from Curry County who studied at NMSU as a freshman.

Pleased with the success of that initial gift to the college, Stout was open to the idea of funding another project that expanded on her interest in empowering women from other parts of the world to enhance their impact through education, particularly in agricultural-related areas.  You might say that the stars aligned and out came the new Service Learning for Women initiative in the College of ACES.

Professor Mick O’Neill, who holds the Jose Fernandez memorial chair in crop production, is now based at the Agricultural Science Center in Farmington, but he has spent much of his life teaching in other parts of the world, including Africa. He suggested partnering with the AWARD (African Women in Agricultural Research and Development) program based in Nairobi, Kenya, to identify qualified women working in areas that would match the expertise of ACES faculty and programs.

Linda inherited her father’s love of travel and likes to use these experiences to learn how other people live around the world.  After early career frustrations, she enrolled in the technical writing program at NMSU, earning her Master’s degree in 1981. That paved a way for a job with IBM in Tucson which gave her the resources to expand her traveling.

She has also been active in mentoring programs aimed at empowering women.  The Service Learning for Women concept matched Linda’s goal to create broader learning opportunities for African women to achieve their highest potential. She agreed to underwrite the cost of the first year’s program.

That brought four women from Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique and Uganda to New Mexico State University in the fall of 2011 for four weeks of training, teaching, travel and cultural exchange among the participants, faculty, students, the Las Cruces community and individuals across the state that are involved in small and large-scale agricultural production.

At the end of a whirlwind month each participant agreed she was changed for good.  Stout says, “The rewards of being the donor on Service Learning for Women are due in no small part to the time I spent with the women during last year's program as their host, chauffeur, and leadership trainer. I look forward to doing that again with the new group in September.  What a gift to me!

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