As a young girl growing up in Nigeria, Elizabeth lost everything. When her father died, his small plot of land was taken away from his family, leaving Elizabeth, her mother and six younger siblings struggling to get by.
“My younger ones and I had to survive,” Elizabeth says. With their mother’s help, they began working on other farms, managing to keep food on the table and school fees paid. In the fields, Elizabeth discovered something new: a love for and curiosity about agriculture.
“While working on those fields I noticed that some farms were growing better than the others, and I wondered why,” Elizabeth says. As a secondary school student, she posed the question to her agricultural science teacher, who chalked the difference up to lack of nutrients in some farms’ soil. Elizabeth, however, suspected that the disparity had a deeper cause – that with enough knowledge, the problems could be fixed.
This interest in agriculture continued into Elizabeth’s adult life. Not being able to afford a true university education, she applied to a federal college nearby and began working towards a degree in agricultural technology. As she worked toward her degree, her interactions with other students revealed another passion: communication and teaching.
“I discovered my strength in communication and teaching,” she says. “As a result, I opted for Agricultural Extension and Farm Management for my Higher National Diploma.”
But in Nigeria, young people, especially women, without a university education are often marginalized, missing out on financial and social opportunities. With this in mind, Elizabeth saved 80 percent of her monthly allowance from the federal government towards her university education. With the help of the Christopher Dowswell Scholarship and Winrock International, she was able to complete her degree.
“When all my savings had finished into the third year of my university education, I was considering picking up menial jobs to pay my school fees, accommodation, project, computer and other bills,” she says. “Winrock International was my savior.”
Now, Elizabeth works as the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development Coordinator for Green Shield Integrated Technologies, an agricultural firm in Ondo State, Nigeria. Utilizing her passions for both teaching and agriculture, she provides marginalized rural women with the information and connections they need to improve their produce production and boost their income.
“I am living my goal and having a fulfilled life,” Elizabeth says.