Kansas college students travel to Taiwan, experience agriculture industry

Capitol Bureau

Courtesy of Katie Sleichter

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) – Two Kansas college students had the opportunity to partake in the Taiwan Agriculture Youth Exchange program in late October.

Katie Sleichter, a freshman at Kansas State University studying agribusiness, global food systems leadership, and Spanish, and Jeffrey Garcia, a freshman at Butler Community College studying agribusiness, were both chosen to represent Kansas. The two partook in the program from Oct. 26 to Nov. 3.

“One of my biggest take-aways probably was just seeing that there’s such a different type of agriculture in the world,” Sleichter said. “I’m just so used to the United States way of agriculture and it was very interesting to see that there are different ways and that there are different ways for people to sustain themselves.”

The students got to tour about eight different Taiwanese farms with produce ranging from passion fruit to organic tea. Traveling with five students from Missouri State University and six students from National Chung Hsing University, the group also got to visit research sites, such as experimental research animal farms and horticulture experimental branches.

The students also met with the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where they discussed the trade relationship that has occurred between the U.S. and Taiwan for many decades, said Kansas Department of Agriculture Director of Marketing Kerry Wefald.

“(This program) hopefully will expose them to a new level of food and agriculture, but also encourage them to come back to the United States, come back to our state in Kansas, and be a platform for communicating the positives of global trade relationships,” Wefald said.

Sleichter said her favorite part was the experiences with the students from Taiwan, and visiting the “night markets” to try food like squid and octopus.

The trip is coordinated by the department and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office out of Denver, according to department Communications Director Heather Lansdowne. The program is offered to high school and college students above 18. To be considered, students must write a paper regarding why they would like to go, and email it to Robin.Blume@ks.gov.

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