For the past two weeks, 75 past and present state FFA officers had the opportunity to tour South Africa for a 12-day educational and cultural experience.
The FFA members, representing 20 states, participated in the 2017 International Leadership Seminar for State Officers (ILSSO), an annual, international opportunity through the National FFA Organization. The seminar provides FFA members the opportunity to experience foreign culture, learn about international agriculture, and become more knowledgeable on the global marketplace.
The group traveled throughout five of South Africa’s nine provinces while surveying the agricultural landscape. FFA officers met with government and U.S. Embassy officials to learn about U.S. and South African trade relations; toured crop and livestock operations; met with business and industry leaders; and explored a private game reserve that is home to lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffalo. The group also met with fruit exporters, olive oil producers, and 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 10 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 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: FFA Pulse: Follow #ILSSO17 to South Africa.