Spring Break 2014 provided six Utah State University students in the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences an international opportunity when they traveled to Japan and learned about the country’s agricultural challenges.
In partnership with the University of Tsukuba, the students joined others from Japan, Philippines and France in visiting places like the Japanese agricultural farms in Ibaraki, national research institutes in Tsukuba Science City and private manufacturing facilities.
Of course there was some traditional sightseeing and other tourist activities as well, noted nutrition science senior Heidi Bringhurst.
“Visiting research facilities by day and singing karaoke by night,” she said.
During their 10-day trip, students found that Japan faces agricultural challenges similar to those in the United States and Utah. However, there are also different challenges unique to their country.
“Here, our agriculture problem is based around lack of water,” said technology and engineering education student Jill Judkins. “Japan is faced with lack of people who want to farm.”
Yeudy Taveras, a junior studying international agribusiness and economics, noticed other differences.
“I think that the big difference between agriculture in Japan and in the USA is the way Japan has a great presence of agriculture in urban areas,” he said. “It was interesting to see how they make use of urban farming due to the fact that they do not have a lot of arable land.”
The students were also exposed to cultural experiences from being in the country and interacting with the international students.
“If I wasn’t learning something while touring places like the Tsukuba Space Center, I was learning something from light conversation on the bus next to a French student,” Bringhurst said. “Spending such unique time with students from other parts of the world really opened my eyes to how our world can and should work in unison and how we can work together to help solve the world’s problems.”
While all USU students who participated in the trip received an $800 scholarship from the University of Tsukuba to help with payment, CAAS students also received extra funding from each of their respective departments.
“Helping us receive education that can never be learned sitting in the classroom is invaluable,” Bringhurst said. “Their generosity demonstrates their understanding of the importance of this experience.”
Writer and contact: Allie Jeppson Jurkatis, (435) 671-0579, firstname.lastname@example.org