Study USA

Explore all that the United States of America has to offer from Coast to Coast through "Study USA" programs! These programs provide undergraduate students the opportunity to learn about diverse cultures, food and agriculture systems, natural resources, and life sciences within the U.S. The programs will be led by faculty within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and students will earn credit for their participation. Students of any college and major are encouraged to apply for a program.

Study USA Scholarship Opportunities


dried beansStudy USA: Field to Fork on the Prairie

Travel Dates: August 5-16, 2023

Application Deadline: More information coming soon. 

Field to Fork on the Prairie takes students on a journey from production through the supply chain to the dinner table. On this trip, students will be exposed to the production and processing of sugar beets, sunflowers, potatoes, and dry beans/peas in eastern North Dakota, lentils and canola in western North Dakota, and irrigated wheat in South Dakota and Nebraska. They will also experience rangeland management in North and South Dakota. A visit to a lock and dam on the Missouri River will provide a discussion of the marketing of crops. Students will be able to compare the native vegetation and climate of the tall grass prairies of Iowa with the short grass prairies of the northern Great Plains. In addition, they will be exposed to native American culture and the local cuisine of the northern Great Plains. Students will be required to complete pre-trip assignments. 

  • AGRON 496B (3 course credits)
  • Course Fee: TBD

Questions? Contact faculty leader, Dr. Mark Licht, lichtma@iastate.edu, or Dr. Mary Wiedenhoeft, mwiedenh@iastate.edu

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California Study USAStudy USA: Comparing Food Systems - Iowa vs California

Travel Dates: May 14-28, 2023 (Tentative)

Application Deadline: Not currently accepting applications

This course will review food systems frameworks and considerations, focusing on food supply chains (production systems, distribution, processing, and retail/markets). Concepts related to systems thinking will be applied to food systems, and discussion topics will include influences such as natural resources (water), innovation and technology, demographics (labor), and economics (the price of food). The pre-departure course will include tours of Iowa food production to assist in comparing and contrasting regional food systems in Iowa and California.

While traveling in California, students will visit a variety of farms and food production. Tours include wineries in Napa and Paso Robles, almond orchards and processing, Hunt's tomato processing, dairy farms and cheese production, fruit and vegetable production including a visit to Driscoll's, coffee production, and seafood fishing. Students will also have the opportunity to visit Sequoia National Park, and the Santa Barbara harbor, and to choose between visiting the Monterey Aquarium or going on a whale-watching tour.

  • FSHN 496B (4 course credits)
  • Course Fee: $3,500

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Questions? Contact faculty leaders Kate Gilbert or Erin Bergquist.


EARTH Service Learning - U.S. Virgin Islands

Travel Dates: Travel during the spring, summer, and fall semesters

U.S. Virgin Islands 2018

In the ISU EARTH Program, undergraduate students will learn about the culture of the people of the Caribbean and U.S. Virgin Islands agriculture and ecosystems while participating in service-learning activities focused on a variety of topics in environmental science, horticulture, sustainability, soil science, culinary science, education and communication, and more!

In addition to working with community partners and participating in service learning, ISU students will earn ISU credits in service learning (HORT/GLOBE 498B), and U.S. Diversity (GLOBE 494C), and may complete additional online ISU coursework. ISU students also will have the opportunity to assist with EARTH Program outreach and development and explore the U.S. Virgin Islands’ ecosystems, national parks, and history. 

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To learn more about the program, contact Gail Nonnecke, nonnecke@iastate.edu, or Emily Zimmerman, emilyz@iastate.edu.


(Past Program) Study USA: Agriculture and History of the Mississippi Delta

Travel Dates: March 12-20, 2022

Application Deadline: Not currently accepting applications

Study USA: Agriculture and History of the Mississippi Delta is an interdisciplinary and inter-institutional domestic travel course opportunity offered in partnership between Iowa State University and Langston University. Students from both institutions will have the opportunity to enroll in a 16-week course in the Spring 2022 semester that explores the past, the present, and the future of the Mississippi Delta, and the opportunity to travel to and participate in service-learning experiences in the Delta during Spring Break. The course will be taught by faculty from both Iowa State University and Langston University, who research and teach in their respective fields of Animal Sciences and the Humanities. All majors are encouraged to apply.

On the trip, participants will explore the Delta’s complementing and conflicting facets of natural resource management, modern agribusiness, local fresh-food initiatives, and high-tech manufacturing. Most importantly, students will be making a positive difference in the lives of others by completing a range of service-learning projects with youth development programs, conservation groups, locally grown food initiatives, and health education organizations.

  • AN S 496B (3 course credits)
  • Course Fee: $1,330

Questions? Contact faculty leader, Gail Carpenter, at ajcarpen@iastate.edu.

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(Past Program) NREM/ARTGR 483x/583x: Science + Design: interpretation of natural resources in Montana

Travel Dates: Aug 9-21, 2021

Application Deadline: Not currently accepting applications

Program Promo Video

A new interdisciplinary service-learning course that brings together art and science students to learn from each other and produce a product for the public. Science students will partner with students from the College of Design to travel to NREM's French Conservation Camp in Montana. There they will meet with scientists, US Forest Service rangers, and other stakeholders to learn about natural resource issues in the region. Then they will design and produce new interpretive signs and other visual materials to be installed by the Forest Service at trailheads and campgrounds to educate the public and communicate science. Students will travel to Montana for 1.5 weeks of fieldwork, then continue to meet on campus to design and produce the visual.

Ideal for Interpretation Option students! Counts as an Option elective in Forestry or A ECL and as an ARTGR484/584 class for Design students. 40 hours toward NREM 104.

Learn more or apply by contacting Jennifer Schieltz, jms3@iastate.edu, or Alex Braidwood, abr@iastate.edu.

Montana Camp Website


(Past Program) Boom To Bust: Community Capitals, Colorado Agriculture Systems, and a Different Kind of Gold Rush

Travel Dates: November 20-28, 2021

Application Deadline: Not currently accepting applications

Travel to the Colorado Front Range to observe and analyze sustainable development, urban agriculture, and the impacts of climate change. You will: Learn about waterwise landscaping at Denver Botanic Gardens, see 2000-year-old bristle cone pines on Mount Evans, discover urban agriculture systems and markets, and be a mile high on top of green roofs for urban storm-water management. Learn about the interesting history of public policy related to water management, land use, and urban development, and the contributions of diverse peoples. 

  • Globe 496B (2 course credits)
  • Course Fee: $2,000

Questions? Contact faculty leaders Kevin Duerfeldt, kduerf@iastate.edu, and Emily Zimmerman, emilyz@iastate.edu.

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