Capital Press

FFA state officers from across the U.S. will get a close look at agriculture in China next month.

Sixty-four students will participate in the International Leadership Seminar for State Officers, said Shane Jacques, education specialist for the National FFA organization, which will lead the group.

Students from 22 states will participate, including one officer from Idaho, six from Oregon and four from Washington.

For 10 days in January, the students will travel from Beijing to Tiajin, Xian and Shanghai and the village of Suzhou.

The trip is part of an annual program. Previous destinations include Argentina, Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom.

The trip occurs in January, when it's easiest for the FFA officers to get time off from school, Jacques said.

"We have to look at the southern hemisphere or countries where agriculture isn't necessarily your typical field work," Jacques said. "China lends itself well to that, because a lot of the agriculture we see there is atypical of any agriculture we would see here."

Students will visit tea farms, livestock operations and a commercial fishing operation. The tour also will include silk production and greenhouse crops.

FFA hopes the students gain a better understanding of world agriculture and other cultures, Jacques said.

"It's a pretty cool opportunity for a student to get to understand some of the cultural traditions of that country, as well as to see some of that history," he said. "We think of the United States being a little less than 250 years old; China's been around for thousands of years."

The cost to the student is $4,400, including airfare. Students are also responsible for obtaining a passport and travel to the departure city, Los Angeles.

Jacques said corporate sponsors keep the cost from being higher. Students may seek support from local and state agencies or pay themselves.

Students will deliver presentations when they return from the trip, Jacques said.

Jacques said the officers will visit an agricultural university in China.


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