Matthew Eddy, Southeast Polk Agriculture Instructor and FFA Advisor, twelve high school students and seven chaperones took an excursion of a lifetime over Spring Break to China as part of the FFA International Learning Opportunity (ILO). The goal of the ILO is to enhance our standards in Agriculture Education.

Students were able to learn about new cultures and increase their  Cultural IQ,  as measured by pre-experience and post-experience testing. They explored international trade of agricultural products between the US & China and evaluated educational presentations with USDA Foreign Ag Service (FAS). A highlight of the trip was talking with US Ambassador to China (and former Iowa Governor), Terry Branstad, on agriculture topics within China and relations with US Agriculture. Our students also visited agricultural companies Corteva, Syngenta and John Deere to learn about production challenges and techniques in China, They were also able to participate in cultural experiences and explore places of historical significance in Chinese culture.

The International Learning Opportunity chose  China as this year’s destination because it is a large customer of Iowa agricultural products:

  • China imported 93 mmt of soybeans in 2017 with a large portion imported from Iowa.
  • China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of pork importing a significant amount from Iowa.
  • China is now the world’s leading importer of soybeans, rapeseed, distillers’ grains, sorghum, barley, and fish meal – some of which are Iowa commodities.

Abby Wing, Southeast Polk sophomore, shared, “Traveling to and around China has opened my eyes to cultural similarities and differences. Although different than the United States, lifestyles are similar and the people are welcoming.”

FFA Students who attended the trip: Emma Collins, Olivia Fisher, Emma Hay, Faith Johnson, Drew Lehman – SEP FFA Co-Chair, Riley Lockard, Kole McNeer, Kaden Pladna, Morgan Schmidt – SEP FFA Co-Chair, Makayla Sorter, Jackson Thompson, Abby Wing.

Additional trip members: Southeast Polk FFA Advisor and Ag Instructor Matthew Eddy, Board Member Gary Fischer, Jennifer Fischer, Don Timmins, Cheryl Timmins, Carol Eddy, Owen Eddy and Rebecca Steckelberg – ISU student teacher.