Blake Van Der Kamp
Blake Van Der Kamp, a sophomore in agriculture and life sciences education, international agriculture, public relations, leadership studies, and recently added agronomy, aspires to participate in five to six study abroad programs during his time at Iowa State. Blake participated in his first study abroad program last fall when he was accepted to the Soils, Crops, and Water of Costa Rica travel course led by Dr. Lee Burras.
Blake learned about the Costa Rica travel course while talking with his fraternity chapter advisor that participated in the program several years ago. With no prior experience in the agronomy field, Blake thought the program might help broaden his horizons and exposure to the different crops and soils in Central America. Blake’s experience in Costa Rica was so impactful that he added an agronomy minor to his list of studies at Iowa State upon returning from the program!
“This study abroad opportunity opened my eyes to the food insecurity problems people are facing around the world. Dr. Burras made the experiences practical and more digestible than anything I could have learned in a classroom setting.”
Participating in the program also allowed Blake to expand his social network with peers. Since the program consisted of students from all different majors within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, there was an opportunity for Blake to network with students from all different backgrounds with different personal perspectives. Blake continues to network with his peers from the program and hopes to continue utilizing these relationships in the future.
Due to the pandemic and the unknowns of international travel opportunities in the coming years, Blake encourages any peer interested in studying abroad to just do it! “Studying abroad is overall a great experience, the relationships you build while meeting new people and the first-hand experiences helped broaden my horizons and put real-life problems around the world into perspective.”
Blake is heavily active in the Iowa State community through his involvement in the Acacia Fraternity, Order of the Omega, Alpha Zeta, Student Government, and CALS Ambassadors. Blake will be participating in the German Equestrian Program in May and will be looking for more study abroad opportunities in the future!