On Thursday 22 June 2023, the NEMEDUSSA student club from the College of Agriculture & Veterinary Medicine at Jimma University in Ethiopia, under the guidance of Prof. Beira H. Meressa, visited the Hermata Junior School in the Jimma district. JU researcher and PANEMA alumni Abebe Woldesenbet was the lead organizer of the visit. The student club members, all BSc students of the graduating class in Plant Science at JU, were welcomed by Hermata students and teachers alike. The club tested the Hermata children on their biology knowledge; the children had heard of bacteria, fungi and virus pathogens, but never of nematodes. This showed just how necessary and valuable the visit from the JU students was to the school, while also giving the club members the opportunity to improve their scientific communication skills and reach children in their community.
The student club took the opportunity to introduce the children to nematodes and nematology, as well as the impact of these roundworms on crops. During the discussion, the student club explained that nematodes are only visible under a microscope. There was a lot of interest, with a female Hermata student asking how she could access a microscope, as she had never seen one.
The teachers in particular were very happy with the visit and keen to broaden the horizons of their class. The student club not only engaged the children about nematodes, but as the student club contained many female members, it also presented the example of women in science and in biology. Hopefully, this successful visit will be the first of many more interactions between the students from Jimma University and school children and will increase the knowledge of, and interest in nematodes of students of all ages.