International Agricultural Exchange Association
This is one of the major organizations in the UK who can arrange for young people to go and work in the USA on farms whether on a six month program or for part of a longer program.
The major requirements for joining this program are that you are under 30 when applying and that you have a sound knowledge of general agriculture. Trainees are interviewed in the UK to decide whether they are suitable for the program. For full details about this exchange program please go to the International Agricultural Exchange Association website.
My experiences as an exchange student
Moving to North Dakota
My interview to become an exchange student was held in February 1998. By June of that year I was flying over to North Dakota to start by six months on an arable farm at the age of 29 (your never too old to try something new!).
On arriving at Fargo airport I was picked up by my host family and taken to a hotel where we met all the other trainees who had flown in from all over the world. We were given an induction into living in America before heading back to the host family farm.
Click on the thumbnail photos to see them enlarged. These are scenes from the six month exchange program in North Dakota.
I worked on the 4000 acre farm for the next six months and was a fantastic experience. I learned to combine wheat, barley, beans, sunflower and corn crops which I had not done before as well as learning about crop irrigation. The most difficult aspect was getting used to the different climatic changes throughout the six months and the mosquitoes. The summer was really hot and the winter was extremely cold, a sharp contrast to the unpredictable weather in the UK. The people I met during my stay were very nice and always interested in hearing about the where I lived and how things were different over in the UK. Driving in the US was a completely new experience too although the roads were fairly quiet in North Dakota compared to some other states we passed through during our time there.
Time for travelling
While living in North Dakota I managed to undertake quite a lot of travelling discovering places within North Dakota itself like Fargo which I would probably never have gone to if I hadn't worked in this area. I also went on fishing trips with other local farmers to a place called Devils Lake where we caught and ate lots of fresh Walleye which was delicious!
As well as attending events in the local town of Lisbon, I also went to Minneapolis to watch a baseball game. This was the Minnesota Twins and the Anaheim Angels playing on this occasion. Baseball was a sporting event I had not seen before although I preferred watching the American football on TV!.
I also travelled from North Dakota to Texas on one trip passing through South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma en route. On the return journey I took a greyhound bus back to Fargo which was quite an experience. Other trips I made were to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Iowa, Niagara Falls ,New York and Buffalo, New York. While in Houston, Texas a visit was made to the Lyndon B Johnson space center which was very interesting and I thoroughly recommend to anyone visiting the area.
Living and working in America was a fantastic experience and one I will never forget.
Top photo courtesy of Focus Multimedia Ltd
All thumbnail photos on this page copyright Spencer Lowe