The Illinois Ag Leadership Program International Travel Seminar final day kicked off with a morning of free time for participants to explore the rich heritage of Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires is a city of approximately 14 million people with strong European influence. The streets remind many of the architecture in Paris. One of the prime tourist spots was the Cementerio de la Recoleta where generations of Argentina’s elite rest, including Evita.
With our bags packed for one final time, the group set off for the Catholic University of Argentina (UCA). We were welcomed by Dean Schang who told us about the history of the 50 year old University and their Ag Leadership programs. The Dean has connections at the University of Illinois with Chancellor Easter and others as they exchange information and Argentine students study abroad.
Mr. Jaime gave us an overview of rural organizations in Argentina. They have three distinct levels of organization with the first degree being local, second degree regional and third degree national.
Pablo Corradi discussed AACREA, the Argentina Technical Association which links farmers with information and technology while providing a platform to share knowledge. AACREA classes are available to anyone in the community and offers training in working in groups, how to organize and influence others.
Hugo Delgado talked about PCDa which holds seminars and sponsored field days in various locations. PCDa is not available to the community; members share information about their farms in a very transparent way so provide learning opportunities.
Cristina Manzano talked about the CEIDA program that is the Argentina version of the Illinois Ag Leadership Program. Founded in 1984, CEIDA promotes and prepares current and future leaders in Agriculture. Unlike our Illinois program, CEIDA meets only in Buenos Aires and is a program for the entire country.
Next it was time for the Illinois Ag Leadership Class of 2010 to tell our Argentina hosts about Rural Organizations in Illinois. Joyce Watson provided information about the IALF. Chuck Cawley from Rochelle shared information on the Illinois Farm Bureau. Chris Gould from Elburn shared information on the Illinois Corn Growers Association.
Our final session of the International Travel Seminar was an open question/answer session between the Argentina group and our Illinois group. We discussed farming practice and public perception of agriculture. We concluded with a group photo.
With that we were off on our last bus journey. The trip to airport left us anxious to go home and see our families but also saddened that our educational experience was over. As we settled in for our nearly ten hour flight to Dulles we were met with time to reflect on our experience. We were all chosen for this program because of our potential as leaders in Illinois. To be the leaders we are to become it is vital for us to understand the global impact other countries have in Illinois and the impact we have on them. We are left with no doubt that we will be reading more headlines about our South American friends and their emergence as leaders in feeding the world.
THANK YOU to the Illinois Ag Leadership Foundation, all of our hosts and those that made this experience possible. It was the learning opportunity of a lifetime.