Check It Off the “Bucket List”

Check It Off the “Bucket List”

May 14
Debra Korte, Teaching Assistant Professor, Agricultural Education

After finishing 12 weeks of student teaching, Agricultural Science Education seniors culminated their academic careers with a study abroad experience to Puerto Rico. Under the guidance of Dr. Erica Thieman, Mr. Gary Ochs, and Dr. Cecilia Suarez, 10 students participated in a week-long journey of agricultural farms, businesses, and cultural experiences in Puerto Rico. Through cooperation with Wanda Perez from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), a division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the group toured five farming operations and a coffee processing facility along the southern coast and central mountainous regions. They also toured a university agricultural experiment station, a grain mill, and the College of Agriculture at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez. Additionally, students visited an Indigenous Culture Center, beach, and closed out their week with a two-day stay in the rainforest.

For some participants, this was the first time they had ever seen the ocean, stood in a waterfall, hiked in a rainforest, or visited another culture outside of the lower 48 states.  Students returned from the trip with many photos, a much deeper knowledge of fruit and vegetable production, and lesson plans utilizing information from their experience for the agriscience classrooms they will be teaching in beginning Fall 2015.

Not only did the experience allow students to mark items off their “bucket list”, but they were also able to connect classroom content about global agriculture practices with firsthand experiences. Claire Geiger, one of the students who participated in the experience, said, “The trip to Puerto Rico was an amazing opportunity to see different agricultural practices in use. Being immersed in the culture also gave me a better understanding for the reasons they produce the variety of produce they do. During my time here at the University of Illinois, I've learned and researched practices like using nitrogen fixing cover crops and irrigation, but I haven't seen them used in the industry often. This trip provided me the chance to see both implemented in the production of plantains.  We also visited one of the University Research Farms trying different varieties of mangoes and how each variety is marketed to different consumer types based on their needs. What an experience!”

Definitely an experience of a lifetime for many. Bucket list item? Checked!


Ag Ed trip to Puerto Rico