Mary Wiedenhoeft, Professor in the Department of Agronomy has been co-leading a travel course to New Zealand since 2007. Below are some questions that we asked Mary about leading faculty-led study abroad programs through the CALS Study Abroad Office.
What program do you co-lead?
- The “Agricultural Systems of New Zealand” is a 2-week program to the North Island of New Zealand. Leo Timms (Animal Science) and I have led this program in 2007, 2010, 2012, 2016 and will be leading it again this fall (2018).
Why do you lead study abroad programs?
- My appreciation for international travel started in June 1978, when I was a junior in Agronomy at Iowa State University. During that time, I participated in a 4-week travel course to 13 different countries in 30 days, on a bus, planes, and ferries. The opportunity allowed me to visit historical landmarks, as well as, farms and agricultural industries in Europe. When I returned to teach at Iowa State in 1999, I was still interested in international travel, but wanted to wait until my children were older to pursue leading a travel course thru the Department of Agronomy. In the summer of 2006, I was contacted by Shelley Taylor in the CALS Study Abroad Office asking if I had an interest in co-leading a program to New Zealand with Dr. Leo Timms from the Department of Animal Science. I knew it was the right time! With my previous experience and contacts in New Zealand we started the “Agricultural Systems of New Zealand” faculty-led study abroad program.
Why should other faculty and staff consider leading a program?
- Although leading a travel course can be a lot of work, many of the programs have at least one additional co-leader to help with the planning, logistics and travel. I personally have enjoyed learning more about myself while traveling abroad and working to enhance some of my personal skills. I have also enjoyed interacting with the students on a more personal level and watching them grow as they step out of their comfort zone.
What have you learned by leading programs?
- Every time I travel abroad, I am reminded that there are so many different cultures and each culture has their own way of doing things. I have also had the opportunity to learn first-hand about agriculture and different farming techniques around the world. I recently had the opportunity to see an avocado tree!
What has been most memorable about leading a program?
- Watching students learn about a different culture and also better understand their personal culture. I also enjoy watching students with no prior international experience step out of their comfort zone and understand that it is alright.
Is there a place that you would like to visit, but haven’t?
- I have always wanted to visit (historical) Eastern European areas such as Bosnia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Prague and many others. Africa, Central America and Antarctica are also on my bucket list!
What do you like to do in your free time?
- I love traveling as well as cooking, reading, biking and hanging out with people. I also like learning more about history.
Why should students study abroad?
- Because they get to better understand their culture as well as learn about different cultures.
- They get to step out of their comfort zone.
- They get to learn about things in other countries that we don’t necessary teach about at Iowa State. For example, tropical agriculture or irrigations systems that we don’t use in the Midwest.