Seventy-five FFA members from 23 states have returned from a 12-day educational and cultural experience in South Africa. This news release from the group says they participated in the 2016 International Leadership Seminar for State Officers, an experience that allows FFA members to experience foreign culture, learn about international agriculture and become more knowledgeable of the global marketplace.
The group traveled throughout five of the country’s nine provinces while surveying the agricultural landscape. FFA officers met with government and U.S. Embassy officials to learn about U.S.- South African trade relations, toured crop and livestock operations, met with business and industry leaders and explored a private game reserve, which is home to lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffalo. The group also met with fruit exporters and olive oil producers and much more.
“This seminar exposes students to culture and food production practices beyond what they are accustomed to in the United States,” said Shane Jacques, education specialist with the National FFA Organization. “Our hope is that through a structured experience like ILSSO, these students will see that study abroad opportunities or global internships and careers are not only attainable, but essential to providing a sustainable talent pipeline for agriculture and feeding the world.” Jacques added that, on average, nine out of ten students who participate in the program admit that they would be receptive to living and working abroad as a result of this experience.
Prior to departing the United States, the students completed ten weeks of online coursework related to cross-cultural adaptability. The program was made possible by corporate sponsors Bunge North America and John Deere.