During my high school years in northeast Nebraska—and, no, I won't say what years—a big class outing was to Sioux City, Iowa. Another bus trip took us even farther, to Pioneer Village in Minden.
Times have changed. The opportunities to travel and explore the rest of the world, even for young folks, have greatly expanded.
Amanda Clymer, a senior at David City Public Schools, had one of those great adventures in early December. She and two other Nebraska high school seniors, as part of a student exchange program, flew 7,000 to Taiwan for a week's stay. Amanda, Justin Korth of Randolph and Conner Kozisek of Ainsworth, were selected by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to represent Nebraska in this program, now in its ninth year. The three were delegates to the Nebraska Ag Youth Institute last summer.
And where did the trio spend most of their time? In high school, of course. In addition to a bit of sight-seeing, they stayed at Taichung Senior High School of Agriculture and Technology. They visited local farms and several ag research institutes.
For Amanda, it was an eye-opener. The high school is exclusively ag- and food-oriented, offering 12 different areas of curriculum, she says, including forestry, food and beverage management, civil engineering and animal production.
"What I enjoyed most was the hands-on activities," she says. "There were dairy cattle on campus and we were able to drink milk from those cattle."
They sat in on a landscape design class, where students were following an actual landscape design for the school."
Adds Amanda, "They start students early on real-world projects and research."
The scale of agriculture is vastly different than what the three Nebraska students are used to. "The Taiwanese students, when told of the size of U.S. farm operations, were shocked," says
The lessons Amanda took home from her trip? "There are opportunities in agriculture for large and small operations. "Their production area is limited in Taiwan, but they make the most of what they have. All size operations are important."
Each year, Nebraska sends three NAYI delegates to Taiwan. Taichung Senior High School then sends three students to Nebraska for the week-long Nebraska Ag Youth Institute in Lincoln every summer.
At that institute this summer, Amanda and her two travel colleagues will review their December 2012 trip for the next round of Ag Youth delegates.
Amanda plans to further her passion for agriculture by attending UNL next fall and majoring in ag economics.
Greg Ibach, director of NDA, says it best: "Agriculture is a global industry, and it's important that our students are educated and understand the important role our trading partners such as Taiwan play in our state's agricultural industry."
Amanda, Justin and Conner gained a valuable perspective on the agriculture and culture of Taiwan, and perhaps that trip will plant the seeds for more educational adventures like this one.