AG-venture for students who study abroad

Stephanie Nelson, Reporter

As Julie Walker hands out and discusses the packing list for the New Zealand excursion the students will go on in a couple of months, the excitement and anticipation in the room grows. 

Not only will students be hopping on a plane and flying 8,025 miles across the globe, but they will be off on a journey to do what they love — experience agriculture.  

Every week, many students, especially those in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, attend a weekly class that prepares them for a faculty-led study abroad adventure in the coming weeks or months. 

Currently, students are preparing for study abroad trips that will venture to China, New Zealand and Australia. Over spring break, a class of 15 went to South Africa.

Despite these classes being for credit, nontraditional classes personalize the material for each student. Students aren’t only learning, but they are preparing for the possibilities that lie ahead. 

Walker, who co-teaches the class preparing students for a trip to New Zealand, talked about the objective of the class for students. 

“We try and give them a general perspective of what’s happened and what’s the history of that country so that they go semi-informed of what they might be seeing so that they can ask more in-depth questions when they get there,” Walker said. 

Throughout the course, students cover various topics in the agricultural industry from dairy production to the growth of fruits and vegetables. Students also research and present on several topics throughout the semester. While this research is helping prepare students for the trip, senior agricultural communication major Kaelyn Platz feels that it goes beyond the classroom and into her future. 

“A lot of the content of the class is not only preparing me for the trip but also preparing me for a job after college,” Platz said. 

All study abroad trips are unique in their own way, but on any trip, students get a chance to see what life in a different country looks like. Junior animal science and agricultural science double major Brittany Harazin experienced this firsthand.

“From this trip, I gained insight into the life of an Australian. I got a glimpse of what people who live in the city experience, as well as the people who live in the more rural areas,” Harazin said. “It was very interesting to see the way they may approach an issue and overcome it. It was fascinating to see how their agriculture operations work and vary from our own.” 

Along with the educational experiences, students have the chance to observe a few of the sights that the country has to offer. For junior animal science major Collin VanderWal, that’s motivation to go on the study abroad trip. 

“I’ve heard that New Zealand is just one of the most beautiful countries in the world, so I’m really looking forward to being able to witness that in person,” VanderWal said. 

A 24-inch suitcase can only fit so many souvenirs, but a trip can fit so many memories that will last a lifetime. Studying abroad is an experience like no other, and for those passionate about agriculture, study abroad trips through the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences can  help grow that passion. 

“Even if they come back and say they never want to go someplace again, they have a better clue that there are other places out in the world,” Walker said.