Congratulations to Shannon Carmody, MS student in the Vegetable Seed Pathology program, on receiving the Alexander A. Smick Scholarship in Rural Community Service and Development. Shannon will receive $2,000 to develop a “Plant Pathology 101” workshop this fall in Mount Vernon, WA under the direction of Dr. Lindsey du Toit with the WSU Vegetable Seed Pathology Program, and a local non-profit, Viva Farms, to provide outreach to Spanish-speaking farmers in the Skagit Valley. The curriculum for this workshop will be designed by Shannon to help beginning farmers answer the question “What’s wrong with my plants?” The workshop will deliver basic information on plant pests, diseases, and nutritional problems, using simultaneous Spanish-English services. Shannon will develop a set of diagnostic questions to help farmers try to understand the problems they see happening in their fields. The workshop will introduce agriculture resources available through the WSU Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center (entomology, weed science, horticulture, and plant pathology programs that provide extension and outreach), as well as the WSU Master Gardener program, and the Plant & Insect Diagnostic Lab at the WSU Puyallup REC. Shannon hopes that these funds can be used to develop a relevant and replicable workshop that could be used by others working with similar farming communities in the Pacific Northwest. She is excited to be a part of the Alexander A. and Agnes “Odegaard” Smick Scholarship program because she cannot imagine anything more important than providing tools and resources for the people who grow our food.
Shannon enrolled as a graduate student at WSU in January 2015, after working in organic seed and agriculture for six years. Most recently, Shannon was the Operations Director for Viva Farms, a land-based farm business incubator in the Skagit Valley of northwestern Washington that helps beginning farmers and farm workers transition to farm ownership. Prior to that, Shannon worked for 5 years as the Public Programs Director at Seed Savers Exchange in Iowa, one of the largest non-governmental seed banks in North America. At Seed Savers, she was surrounded by an abundant diversity of vegetable seed, ~70 crop types, representing the cumulative work of many agriculturalists. It is at the intersection of seed and the people who grow them that Shannon decided to pursue the study of vegetable seed pathology at Washington State University. Shannon grew up in Rock Island, Illinois, and graduated with a double major in Environmental Studies and International Relations from Beloit College in Beloit, WI.