During the past two weeks, 75 FFA members visited Portugal and Spain for a 12-day educational and cultural experience. Members participated in the 2020 International Leadership Seminar for State Officers (ILSSO) as an annual, international opportunity through the National FFA Organization. The seminar allows FFA members to experience a foreign culture, learn about international agriculture, and become more knowledgeable regarding the global marketplace.
The past and present state FFA officers representing 23 states left the United States on Jan. 4. The group traveled throughout Spain and Portugal while surveying the agricultural landscape. While in Spain, the group toured a variety of cities — from Madrid to Toledo to Seville. Students visited a beef cattle farm as well as Costa Tropical — the most prominent co-op in Spain. They then spent time in Almeria, which is known as “Europe’s Vegetable Garden.” They also visited the main olive oil cooperative in Spain.
In Portugal, students visited the Amorim Cork factory, as Portugal has become one of the worlds’ top cork producers. They also visited Companhia das Lezirais, a state-run agricultural and forestry company. In Lisbon, they toured the city and visited College of Agriculture at Santarem — the most important agricultural school of Portugal.
“We hope that through a structured experience like ILSSO, students will not only see the importance of agriculture on an international level but understand it is essential to feeding the world,” says Eric Nelson, program manager with the National FFA Organization. “This seminar exposes students to culture and food production practices beyond what they are accustomed to in the United States,” Nelson says.
Prior to departing the United States, the students completed eight weeks of online coursework related to cross-cultural adaptability. The program was made possible by corporate sponsors Bunge North America and John Deere.
Students shared their experience throughout their trip on Twitter and Instagram. To see a recap of their adventures, visit their website.
Those students who participated in the trip were: Brandon Traini of Anchorage, Alaska; Ka’Shiya McKinney of Tallassee, Ala.; William Aycock of Albertville, Ala., Alyssa Glover of Dothan, Ala.; Cole Hanson of Plant City, Fla.; Lauren Roberts of Cross City, Fla.; James Prescott of Plant City, Fla.; Sydney Swartman of Plant City, Fla.; Ronald Raper of Marianna, Fla.; Madison Dvorka of Lakeland, Fla.; Courtney Ball of Avon Park, Fla.; Hope Brecht of Belle Plaine, Iowa; Shalani Wilcox of Menan, Idaho, Katelyn Hettinga of Kuna, Idaho, Herman Roberts of Preston, Idaho, Cassidy Plum of Meridian, Idaho, Sydney Plum of Meridian, Idaho, Katherine Doumit of Troy, Idaho; Lukas Sebesta of Wilson, Kan., Abby Goins of Oswego, Kan., Elizabeth Wright of Olsburg, Kan., Mason Prester of Wilson, Kan., Jon Wells of Sedan, Kan.; Salem Johnson of Campti, La.; Jaclyn Bryant of Frederick, Md.; Lafe Aarsvold of Altura, Minn., Elaine Dorn of Kenyon, Minn., Savannah Aaenrud of Donnelly, Minn., Madilyn Smith of Preston, Minn., Nicholas Potthoff of Dunnell, Minn., Adam Kroll of Royalton, Minn., Britton Fugsleth of Fertile, Minn.; Gabriel Elliott of Asbury, Mo.; Jacquelyn Everett of Philadelphia, Miss., Mary Barnes of Decatur, Miss.; Kyla Andres of Missoula, Mont.; Jacy Hauge of Fargo, N.D.; Luke Krabel of Juniata, Neb., Samuel Wilkins of Ainsworth, Neb., Kooper Jelinek of Atkinson, Neb., Megan Fehr of Sutton, Neb., Weston Svoboda of Burwell, Neb., Savannah Gerlack of De Witt, Neb.; Nicole Sickler of Pedricktown, N.J.; Talia Priore of Alloway, N.J., Owen Donnelly of Oxford, N.J.; Anna Bica of Watertown, N.Y.; Holly McClay of Fredericktown, Ohio; Deidre Schreiber of Enterprise, Ore., Olivia Palacios of Hubbard, Ore., Keegan Gibbs of Heppner, Ore., Elizabeth Hanson of Woodburn, Ore., Riley Davis of Albany, Ore., Josiah Cruikshank of Bend, Ore.; Sarah Kroeger of Brookings, S.D., Marie Robbins of Aurora, S.D.; Erika Brown of McEwen, Tenn., Caroline Gurton of Paris, Tenn., John Ryan Scarlett of New Market, Tenn., Taylor Campbell of Jonesborough, Tenn., Emily Nave of Woodbury, Tenn., Nathanial McClard of Westmoreland, Tenn.; Ryan Gobble of Abingdon, Va., Erin Orgen of Stephens City, Va., Carly Carpenter of Mount Crawford, Va., Makenzie Kline of Strasburg, Va., Hope Showalter of Mt. Crawford, Va., Madison Sifford of Goldvein, Va., MaKayla Craig of Remington, Va., Shelby Stevens of N. Dinwiddie, Va., Jacob Dinterman of Appomattox, Va.; Devin Schafer of Ritzville, Wash., Abbie Dorhauer of Yelm, Wash., Kendyl Wiley of Davenport, Wash.; and Cassie Hargis of Harpers Ferry, W. Va.