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Ag Delegation Experience in Nicaragua—Expecting the Unexpected

Olivia Staub, Vice-President of the Battlefield FFA chapter, writes an article about her experiences while part of the Agricultural Delegation to Nicaragua this year.
Olivia discusses chickens with Marvin

Olivia discusses chickens with Marvin

The opportunity was presented to a pair of Gettysburg Area High School students to be a part of a week-long trip to Nicaragua, the land of lakes and volcanoes. I never thought that I would be one of those students, but I am forever grateful that I was. The trip changed my views on many things for the better. I shared the experience with a fellow student and Battlefield FFA President, Ashlyn Burkholder; our GHS Ag teacher and Battlefield FFA Advisor, Mr. Bill Tindall; and three amazing Penn State Extension Young Grower Alliance representatives, Erin Dugan, Carla Snyder, and Mike College.

Expecting the unexpected was how the group of six made it through the whole trip, from the not knowing if the roads were intact to finding a scorpion in our room—going with the flow and not getting too overwhelmed helped out a lot. Not ever flying on a plane or traveling outside the country gave me the chance to not have expectations before going on this trip and that was what made it all the better.

When presenting canning to three extensionists-in-training, I was not as confident as I would have liked to have been. Being familiar with the process I felt was not enough to really teach them, so I fumbled through it with the help of YGA and was happy with the interest shown and the possibility that canning was something that might be further pursued. The moment that will stick with me for the rest of my life is when I shared my knowledge about chickens. Now that sounds silly, but I know chickens. I knew the information that I was sharing with Marvin, the extensionist who is interested in animal science, was based from my knowledge and my own experiences. The best part was when he told me that I was the person he had been waiting for to share my own knowledge with him about something that is a big part in the culture.

The three scholars, Javier, Marvin, and Edward showed so much enthusiasm with everything they did, even if it was getting up at three in the morning, walking into town to catch a bus, and then a few more buses, to get to school by eight and having the same journey back. The passion that they put into everything that they do made me see many things in a different light.

When we arrived back to school the next day, I immediately wanted to turn around and head back to Nicaragua, aside from the fact that it was warmer than Pennsylvania, as the determination and perseverance that was demonstrated by everyone that we had the opportunity to meet was a great situation to be in—especially away from home. Though poverty as far as materials goes is something that is obvious, what is even more obvious is their lack of poverty in heart. Not one second while in Nicaragua did I feel homesick, because everyone, even if we didn’t know them, made us feel welcome. I wouldn’t trade the opportunity for the world and I am planning on attending the next trip with YGA.

By Olivia Staub, Gettysburg High School FFA