Share

Gettysburg High School FFA students' 2014 Nicaragua Experience

When Javier visited our agricultural classes in the fall of 2013, the chapter decided to become involved with PGL through donations as well as participating in a yearly delegation with YGA. The two of us were chosen to participate in the trip because of our interest in agriculture and our involvement in the FFA.

As we prepared for the trip we each had our own hopes and expectations for the trip. We were both interested in seeing the difference in agriculture in Nicaragua, as well as experiencing a different culture in general. When the time of the trip finally came we were not let down.

The YGA trip not only met, but exceeded our expectations. The trip was filled with excitement and new experiences, nearly to the point of being overwhelming. However, even with the intenseness of the trip, our experience was incredible. We saw a side of agriculture that we barely knew existed.

We are no longer only aware of the traditional and commercial American agriculture, in which farmers grow to sell and to make a profit. In Nicaragua, the majority of agriculture is family based, with each family growing crops or raising livestock to meet the needs of their family. And they must struggle to do this while fighting against diverse growing seasons, subpar soil, rough terrain, and the requirement to do most labor by hand.

We also became aware of sustainable farming methods such as double excavation and permaculture. Not only was the agriculture a new experience for us, so was the culture. We experienced the different diet, living conditions and low-income living. It was a shock for us to see people living their lives with so much less than the typical American, yet at the same time it was an incredible experience. It made us more appreciative of what we take for granted each and every day.

The experience we had in Nicaragua also gave both of us an interest in worldwide agriculture. We each have newfound interests in experiencing other forms of agriculture throughout the world, whether that be revisiting Nicaragua, traveling to other parts of the world, or just trying to learn more about other agricultural practices. Our Nicaraguan experience was one that opened our eyes to worldwide agriculture, gave us new viewpoints, kept us busy and thinking, and even humbled us. But most importantly, it was an experience that we will never forget.

Matthew Wagner and Katie Sharrer, Gettysburg High School FFA