Sara from Germany and her host sister Eileen in Illinois put together a wonderful account of their experience this fall attending the National Future Farmers of America Convention together and what they’ve learned from each other:
The road to the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Convention and Expo provided a unique opportunity for cultural learning to one Illinois FFA Chapter this year, as they welcomed a new guest member — Sara from Germany.
Sara lives on a 3rd generation dairy farm back in Germany and was able to share her knowledge with the chapter members and compare and contrast dairy farming in America and Germany. While traveling to Louisville, Kentucky for the National Convention, Sara and her fellow members experienced a tour of The Dairy Adventure at Fair Oaks Farm in Indiana. They toured a working dairy farm with nearly 4,000 cows while traveling in a “cow bus”. The students learned the milk making process from “Grass to Glass”, and witnessed the miracle of life with two live calf births.
Sara and her American friends compared their different farming experiences from milk costs to production techniques. Something not used on Sara’s farm in Germany was the cow carousel that holds 70 cows that get milked 3 times a day. The cow carousel looks like a cow merry-go-round, and though its not used on Sara’s farm, she explained other equipment is used in its place. Havana FFA members also learned that if the cows are chewing their cud, that is a good sign that the cows are relaxed and happy.
Sara’s job on her farm back home is to feed, clean and bed the calves’ pens and make sure all the calves are taken care of year round. On her German farm, calves are born year round. The Fair Oaks Farms also have year-round births, experiencing 80-100 calves born every day! Sara’s perspectives on this trip and in the agriculture classes at her high school in Illinois have been an amazing learning experience for all her fellow students. Sara has also felt the benefits. “Being a part of the FFA and attending the National FFA Convention was an interesting experience and I’m amazed at how many kids are involved in agriculture from all different settings,” she explained. “There are not many people in Germany that are educated about agriculture and something like FFA would benefit my area greatly.”