Lendel Narine grew up in Rio Claro, Trinidad and Tobago, surrounded by a family of small-scale farmers. He attended the University of the West Indies (UWI) for his undergraduate degree in agribusiness management, finding that much of his studies involved a large portion of consumer demand and economics.
Lendel went on to obtain his master’s degree in Agricultural Economics from UWI, mistakenly paired with an adviser in an Extension discipline.
“I kept working with my adviser, who helped coordinate trips from other faculty and students to UWI,” said Lendel.
At this point, he enjoyed Extension research because it allowed him to work with farmers throughout the Caribbean, and knew it could relate to small-scale farmers, but still focused his research on agricultural economics.
After obtaining his master’s degree, Lendel immediately started a Ph.D. program in economics. “I knew I always wanted to get a Ph.D., and I wanted to do it in economics,” he said.
Part-way through his doctoral program, Lendel found himself presenting his work with economics at a conference in Istanbul.
“I finished presenting at this conference,” Lendel said, “and when I walked out of the room I knew I was in the wrong program. I hated what I was presenting on because it was all theoretical and mathematical, and I lost focus on what I wanted when I started.”
This setback led Lendel to take a leap of faith and pursue a Ph.D. at another university. He and his wife, Amanda, packed up their luggage and headed to Europe for a new adventure, but quickly found that it still wasn’t the right place.
“It was probably the lowest point in our lives,” Lendel said. “We left our jobs and our families to try something new, and it failed for reasons we couldn’t control nor believe.”
As they were sitting in the airport, defeated and unsure of what to do, Lendel took another leap of faith.
“I met Dr. Amy Harder at UWI when she would visit every year and I helped set up their trips,” he said. “So we were sitting in the airport, and I sent her a Facebook message asking about doing a Ph.D. at UF.”
Lendel and his wife quickly went through the application process and are now completing their Ph.D. degrees at UF, specializing in Extension education.
“It seems really cliché now,” he said, “but looking back, it really did work out for the best for us. This department is everything we expected it to be.”
Lendel is researching farmers’ ability to use information communication technologies to interact with Extension, and should graduate this December.
“This was always an area of interest, and this program gave me a chance to pursue it. That’s the best thing about Extension, it’s all about research to improve the lives of people.”