University News

Ag Ed Majors Receive Study Abroad Scholarships

February 22, 2007

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MACOMB, IL -- Three Western Illinois University agriculture education students, along with other Western students, will head to the tropics over spring break, not to indulge in the typical spring fling, but to examine the agriculture system and economic development of a Third World country.

The students will embark March 7 on an agriculture department two-week study abroad trip to Costa Rica, led by WIU Agriculture Professor John Carlson. James Kennedy, a senior from Kirkland (IL); Kami Kates, a senior from Nokomis (IL); and Matt Heberling, a senior from Owaneco (IL) each received a $500 scholarship from the Illinois Committee for Agricultural Education (ICAE) to cover a portion of the study abroad experience.

According to Andy Baker, agriculture education professor, the department submitted a proposal to the ICAE to consider contributing to deserving agriculture students who wish to participate in an agriculture-related study abroad experience. Kennedy, Kates and Heberling are each studying to be agriculture education teachers, and these scholarships were designed to bring their experiences overseas to their future classrooms, Baker added.

While there the group will visit a cassava (an annual crop cultivated for its edible starchy root) production facility; a livestock farm; an organic farm; the rainforest; a coffee factory; a sustainable agriculture site; a macadamia nut farm; coffee and sugar cane farms; and a cheese factory.

WIU agriculture education student Matt Meyer, a senior from Newark (IL), also received a $500 ICAE scholarship to cover a portion of the ag department's May trip to China. The group will depart from Chicago May 16 and spend nearly three weeks touring China. According to Carlson, who will also lead this trip, the students will visit agricultural facilities in the country, as well as organizations and multinational corporations. Historical and cultural site visits will also be a part of the experience. Students are currently taking a course to familiarize them with the country and its customs.

"These are phenomenal experiences for our students," Baker added. "It's one thing for students to read about these places, and it's quite another for them to learn about the culture, the economy and the industry of these countries firsthand."

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (
Office of University Communications & Marketing