For Christiana Mokube, joining PlantVillage to work for the African community to find solutions to food insecurity is the best experience she’s ever had, and one of the things she’s marking as this Black History Month edition comes to an end.
Ms. Mokube, a Penn State University undergraduate majoring in Bachelor of Science in Statistics and Bachelor of Science in Biology, sees Black History Month as an opportunity to "celebrate black excellence and awareness among my peers, community, and the great accomplishments of the influential black leaders who came before me."
Black History Month, in the context of PlantVillage, allows her to reconnect with the African continent and the Black community in the United States.
"I celebrate Black History Month with PlantVillage because it is directly connected with Africa, dealing with things that affect my people in Cameroon and different countries in Africa," she said.
She found passion in annotating images to help predict the model for the PlantVillage artificial intelligence system. Her interest in PlantVillage was inspired by cassava because it is a major crop in Cameroon and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa and the main source of nutrients for people on the continent. Therefore, she loved the fact that she would be working directly with people with whom she shares ancestry.
Her drive to influence agriculture through science is so strong that Penn State acknowledged her for Black History Month by honoring her as an African student who excels in agricultural science.
During her time at Penn State, she was able to notice differences between Africans on the continent and Blacks in America, and she attempted to bridge that gap by becoming involved in their communities.
Christiana, who refers to herself as the daughter of two black immigrants, acknowledged PlantVillage for its role in shaping her career and mentioned Dr. David Hughes, th organization's founder and director, as a person she looks up to.
"Not only is he working to combat food insecurity in Africa and building models to combat it, but he’s also helping other students keep progressing in life. He’s more of shaking the hand of the neighbor," she said.
She has become a climate change advocate since joining PlantVillage. Before, she was a biology major trying to figure out what she could do with it.
Concerning the future of climate change, she stated that there is much to be done and that her generation and future ones will learn more about it. She is glad it will get better with organizations like PlantVillage working with farmers.
"Climate change will get better with companies like PlantVillage working closely with farmers to combat the problem. PlantVillage is doing a lot, something of which I am proud," she concluded.
Black History Month is observed yearly between February 1 and March 1 to remember important people and events in the history of the African diaspora in the United States and the United Kingdom.
- Written by Sam Oduor