Since January 4th, FFA leaders from across the nation have been on an agricultural and cultural tour of China. Josh Bledsoe, State Leader for Agricultural Education as well as the state FFA Advisor:
“Well, these students are state FFA officers from most of the states across the nation. And each year the national FFA coordinates this trip for the state officers, really to expose them to international agriculture and international culture, and the destination varies from year to year. And I know that I’ve been very fortunate to travel with this state officer group to places like Spain, Portugal, Germany, the Czech Republic, and this year the national organization chose China.
And I believe there’s approximately 60 students from across the nation that are on this trip, and they are going to visit schools, and colleges, and they’ll visit agricultural industries, and they’ll have some cultural stops along the way as well, to experience the full Chinese culture.”
Bledsoe explains what these FFA student leaders were slated to experience:
“So, while they are in China they’ll be visiting some fruit and vegetable production, some livestock production, along the way they’ll be going to a silk production as well. And then they’ll be visiting several universities, including the Northwest A&F University. So, they’ll actually see some pretty up-to-date agricultural industries there, they’ll also visit several cooperatives, and really just learn how agriculture operates in China.”
Bledsoe explains that while there are many agricultural similarities between American and Chinese agriculture, there are several disparities, as well, and the FFA representatives are scheduled to see some different things:
“I think they’ll actually be on some farms and see some agricultural production, for instance, I think one day they’ll go to a tea farm, where they’ll see tea grown, and I know one day also includes a fishing operation, so they’ll actually be on some agricultural enterprises and seeing how those commodities are grown, raised or produced in China.”
Bledsoe considers this an invaluable experience for these future agricultural producers and leaders:
“When they have an opportunity to travel internationally, just the importance of agriculture and international agriculture, I think when you’re traveling and when you see exports coming in on Panamax Carriers, or you see products made in the US, I think they understand and grasp just how small the world is, and just how dependant we are on each other for both our agricultural products and commodities.”
The three North Carolina representatives are State FFA Pres, John Stewart, NC State from Knightdale HS in Wake County, Hannah Russell, NC State, SW Randolph HS in Randolph Co., and Caroline Tart, NC State, Rosewood HS in Wayne Co. and from South Carolina Katy Simpson, Clemson University, Abbeville HS.