Profesora Lucía Antonieta Lorca, una vida dedicada a la Extensión y al Desarrollo Rural

Juan Lerdon





Between 1958 and 1963, Professor Lucía Antonieta Lorca graduated in Agronomy in Venezuela, where she specialised in Agricultural Extension and Social Sciences. In 1966, after validating her degree in Chile, it was in the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences of the Austral University of Chile that she offered, for the first time in the country, an Agricultural Extension course with a marked emphasis on Rural Development – taking an approach on the education of the farmer, based on his needs in order to improve agriculture and the living conditions of rural people.
In 1971 Professor Lorca did a Master’s degree in Extension at Washington State University. During this period she was able to find out about the organization, function and success of the Extension activity in the United States agriculture and life in the rural sectors, which allowed the development of other sectors of the North American economy.
In 1982, she obtained a grant from the Government of Taiwan and spent three months studying Rural Development at the Land Reform and Rural Development Institute. This training provided her a close-up view of one of the few successful agrarian reform processes in the world and its model of integral development.
She worked along Professor Carlos Amtmann during a period of three years to design a down to earth, interesting and empowering curriculum for the university professionals doing the Master’s level in Rural Development. Teachers and authorities were also involved in the process to make this a reality. The support of the Inter-American Institute of Agrarian Sciences (IICA) was obtained through its representative Hernán da Costa Fiori, who also made important contributions. This postgraduate course was first offered in 1985, being attended by professionals from the Health, Education, Economics, Social Sciences and Silvoagricultural Sciences sectors who came from many Latin American countries, the United States and Spain. The coordination of this Master course was in charge of Professor Lucía Lorca from 1985 to 1992, when she retired.
Since then, Professor Lorca has actively collaborated in activities developed in the Máfil Commune, both in the organization of older people and in the role of Cultural Delegate of the Commune before national cultural councils.
How did Toña, as we nickname her, become someone faithful to his convictions? Undoubtedly his extroverted and persevering personality, his holistic vision of rural development and agricultural extension, her closeness to her surroundings and in particular to her students, always inspiring them to become better professionals, to overcome their weaknesses and adversities. Many generations of students of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences of the Universidad Austral de Chile had the privilege of having her as a teacher, and her teachings have accompanied us permanently, both in the professional and human fields. To this day, at 87 years old, she is still an active woman, proud that the Magister of which she was co creator has a scholarship that bears her name, fully attentive to her environment and the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences as well as the Rural Development in its most integral sense, and especially, the Curriculum of the career of Agronomy, and how Extension should be incorporated in the professional development of future generations.