Student travels to South America
Andrew Carpenter of Lingle has grown up devoting his life to agriculture. From involvement in 4-H at a young age to FFA through high school, Carpenter says he’s always had a passion for the industry.
After graduating from high school, Andrew decided to continue his education at the University of Wyoming, where he is now studying international agriculture business. While in Laramie, Carpenter heard about the opportunity to study foreign agriculture for two weeks this spring and couldn’t pass it up.
“I saw some flyers and got a few emails at school about the trip, and it looked really interesting. I decided to go ahead and apply for the trip and was fortunate enough to be selected,” says Carpenter.
The trip in hosted through the National FFA Association and is called the International Collegiate Agricultures Leadership (I-CAL) Program. Carpenter was selected as one of 12 students from across the United States to travel to South America at the end of May with I-CAL, and a program developed as a coalition between the United States Grains Council and The Grains Foundation, organizations both oriented on building international markets.
“We got to experience every aspect of agriculture while we were down there – everything from full-scale producers to some major international corporations. It was incredible,” Carpenter notes.
The group spent the first week in Panama and then traveled to Columbia for the second part of their journey. According to the National FFA Organization, the group had the privilege of seeing everything from grain inspection facilities, fruit and vegetable production farms, livestock operations and open-air markets.
“We got to learn a lot about both U.S. and South American agriculture and were able to see a lot of things I had never seen before,” adds Carpenter.
The group was given hands on experiences for dealing with and understanding the intricate workings of international agriculture.
“I learned that international agriculture is a very complex system. The United States plays a major part in that, but there are many different aspects of it. The actions that we have here in America, such as the Free Trade Agreement, have such a large impact everywhere else,” says Carpenter.
The trip focuses on students who are majoring in agriculture and who would benefit from learning through travel about the agriculture industry on a much larger scale.
“It really opened my eyes to a bunch of new opportunities, both here and abroad. There are lots of different opportunities as far as producing internationally and trading internationally,” he notes.
Carpenter and the other students were taught about how each agriculture producing country affects the international trade markets and how that, in turn, can directly affect the United States.
“By learning a lot about South American agriculture I learned a lot about what we are doing in America and how we can improve it,” Carpenter says.
The National FFA Organization emphasizes career development as part of their core curriculum, and tries to give its students many opportunities to discover the truth about agriculture and to be inspired by it.
“The trip helped me to realize that I could easily make a career out of some sort of international agriculture,” adds Carpenter.
The National FFA Organization hosts this and many other trips each year, which are all open to FFA members, and different trips focus on different age groups.
“I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone that is interested. It was an amazing trip. I met a lot of great people, made a lot of connections and got to experience new things that I had never seen before, and I had fun while we were doing it,” says Carpenter.