Some Background Information on the Field Trip

Since 1968 over 950 students plus almost 100 faculty, staff, administrators and extension agents have participated in the trip. Beginning with an journey to Puerto Rico, primarily to study tropical agriculture, the trip has evolved into a two part six credit course with the two week trip to the tropics remaining as the core of the course.  In the past 30 years, Puerto Rico was visited from 1968 to 1975 and the Dominican Republic was included after 1973. From 1976 to 1982, Mexico was the host country for the field trip, and Costa Rica from 1983 to 1990. Honduras was visited from 1991 until 1997. This year, the class traveled to Ecuador, and will continue to do so next year.

The field trip includes visits to a variety of agricultural enterprises and institutions, both large and small, public and private, and to natural resource management programs. Trip locations have provided an excellent field laboratory to study tropical soils, crops, and animals under a wide range of ecological, social, and economic conditions. Disciplinary boundaries have been overcome, and most participants gained a much better understanding of agricultural development and the problems of developing countries. The study of agriculture is not confined to books. Given its location, Cornell is clearly handicapped in field studies in agricultural development despite the need to teach hundreds of students from developing countries, and the need to internationalize the university-wide curriculum to meet challenges in our global community. The course has partially compensated for these needs.  

The response of both students and staff to past trips has been highly enthusiastic. Many students have stated that the trip was their most exciting and valuable learning experience while at Cornell University. Some describe the course as a "life changing" experience. Regarding international agriculture, the trip gives students an opportunity to - see it, touch it, and smell it - and such experience cannot be equaled in any classroom.

Quotes from Students and Faculty about the trip:

I want to express my excitement and satisfaction with the International Agriculture 602 program in Honduras. This is a program that is long established within the Cornell curriculum. This trip was recommended to me by my father because he found it to be an exceptional learning experience when he took it to Costa Rica in 1969. The program has a wonderful reputation for providing the students with tremendous experience and knowledge. --  Kelly Marie Doss

Cornell has never ceased to impress me with the quality of its teaching staff, their skills as both teachers and professionals in their respective fields, an the dynamic environment created by the community of intelligent and experienced members of the student body. We must, however, admit that the world of Cornell is a world quite of its own. It has a flavor, culture, rhythm, and demands of its own. During times of dead lines and due dates, the object and realities of our studies remains worlds away even in our minds. INTAG 602 offers the ideal bridge between two very different but very dependent worlds. Any effort to breech that apparently insurmountable gap should be praised and supported. The Honduran experience did much to bring the two worlds together for me. It did much to make concepts concrete, to unite theory and practice. --Matthew A. Thornton

The intense trip provided us ample opportunities to see rural communities, farms, research institutions, etc. in a developing country. But the most impressive event for me is the four day excursion. The students were divided into five excursion teams to conduct a comprehensive survey. My excursion team went to two remote rural community San Antonio M. and Monte Alegre. We lived in farmer's homes and observed how hard they worked. At Monte Alegre I noticed a boy, with bare foot, staring at the mineral water bottle in my hand, I gave my bottle to the boy. The boy was so excited that he jumped around and showed it off to other kids. I was not as happy as that boy since I felt a strong obligation. As an trained agricultural economist, I ask myself, why the farmers still can not afford to buy a piece of toy for their children in spite of their extremely hard work? What kind of policy can help farmers jump out of the poverty circle and give the children a bright future? I do not have good answers right now, but I will devote my career to explore the answers for these questions. -- Xiao-Bo Zhang

I cannot stress the level of impact that this class has made upon me, it is one of the rare times at school where I feel that I have seen a well rounded example of an issue and can finally form my own opinions based on observations, not just what I have been shown in a classroom. I would like to request that the future of this class be ensured through the support of CALS administration and would encourage you or any of your staff to participate in order to make future decisions regarding the course  -- Jason T. Ingram

On January 2nd I packed my suitcase and joined the INTAG 602 class as they departed for Honduras. The two weeks following that day were to become some of the most educational and enjoyable of my life. As a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences majoring in International Agriculture this trip provided me a valuable insight into the tropics that would not be possible to learn in a classroom. I spent time talking one on one with small farmers, local professors and area businessmen. I had the chance to see ecosystems that I had, until then, only read about. As the trip came to a close I could begin to see how my understanding of the entire world had changed. -- Jason Kahabka

The International Agriculture 602 course is one of the richest learning experiences I have seen in higher education. The dynamic international learning environment is greatly enhanced by bringing together undergraduates and graduates with diverse backgrounds and international experiences with a multidisciplinary, intergenerational group of faculty, administrators and extension educators. Each of the participants becomes an active learner and teacher in the context of understanding a developing nation's complex food, environmental, economic and social systems. --William B. Lacy (former Director of Extension - CALS)

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