Study Abroad/International Field Trips to Increase Students' and Agriculture Professionals' Competitiveness in the International Arena

Wednesday, July 24, 2013: 1:00 PM
Desert Salon 1-2 (Desert Springs J.W Marriott Resort )
Mengmeng Gu , Texas AgriLife Center, College Station, TX
James A. Robbins , University of Arkansas Coop. Extn., Little Rock, AR
Xin Zhao , Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Study abroad is one form of the high-impact educational practices and beneficial for college students from diverse backgrounds. Students with study abroad experiences exhibit a greater improvement in intercultural communication skills than students who never participate in study abroad programs. Field trip, an interpersonal method and experiential learning tool, was the second preferred method (following on-farm demonstration) of receiving information on new or innovative farming practices. Over 30 students and agriculture professionals participated in a combined study abroad and international field trip program partially funded by a USDA International Science and Education grant to learn season extension horticulture production and marketing in China since 2010. Participants benefited from direct exposures to the production technologies and marketing strategies commonly used in China, which could be easily transferred to the U.S. through direct field experience and extension outreach programs, helping the U.S. producers successfully compete in the global arena. Participants shared their experience on a blog, which is continuously available online for those who couldn’t participate in the trips. The blogs received close to 10,000 views from audience from the U.S., Russia, France, India, United Kingdom, Philippines, China, Canada, Germany and Thailand.