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Six months later, I-CAL still impresses

By Laura Gorecki, 2013 I-CAL participant

When the weather turns colder and the leaves begin to fall, I see many agriculturalists working hard to harvest the fruits of their labor. As the combines roll through the fields and the cattle are brought in from summer pasture, it's hard to imagine that farmers in other parts of the world are putting seeds into the ground to start a new season. We often get caught up in our own little world and forget that we live in a global society, especially in agriculture. I was able to experience global agriculture firsthand during my trip to Brazil this past May with the International Collegiate Agricultural Leadership program (I-CAL).

During our visit, I was exposed to many new perspectives as well as a few familiar sights. I saw how Brazil has adapted their livestock and crop production to fit their climate and available resources. For example, a Brazilian dairy cow may still be black and white, but she looks quite different due to the Gir breed used for its heat tolerance and insect resistance. I realized that a baby pig is cute no matter what country it is from and their owners work hard to form cooperatives similar to those used here in the U.S.

In addition to the expo, members of our staff had the opportunity to speak at different luncheons or other gatherings to answer the question of many members’ “What do I do after I’m out of the blue and gold jacket?” I and two other staff members had the wonderful opportunity of giving a short talk to all of the delegates from each state. It was very well received and many questions were asked and answered. As the week progressed, we found ourselves stepping completely out of our comfort zones and starting conversations with strangers as they walked by.

I also noticed that many Brazilian scientists are studying some of the same things our researchers are experimenting with at my college! This made me wonder why we don't join together to discover new technologies together. After all, it is the goal of every agriculturalist to feed the world and what better way to do that than through collaboration? I hope that I can keep this global mindset as I work toward a career in agriculture. I am currently an animal science major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with hopes to use my knowledge to develop new technologies that will benefit the livestock industry around the globe.

My experiences in Brazil have helped me understand our own production practices here in Nebraska. I realize that the livestock and crops I raise will be used around the world and that consumers count on me to provide a safe, quality product. I recognize that agriculture around the globe is connected through our passion for what we do as farmers and ranchers. As we finish up the harvest season, take a moment to ponder what other farmers may be doing in South America, Asia and all around the world.

Laura Gorecki is a student at University of Nebraska-Lincoln and was part of the 2013 I-CAL program to Brazil. I-CAL is sponsored by the U.S. Grains Foundation as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.