Share

Andy Schlegel

Food Science Major, INTAG Minor who studied abroad in France and Ireland.
In front of Notre Dame in Paris, France

In front of Notre Dame in Paris, France

I was always interested in traveling the world. Once I found out that I could travel while at Penn State I took full advantage and incorporated 2 short term study abroad opportunities into my studies. Since most of my interest was related to food production, leadership and agricultural policy my studies took me to France and then Ireland. In a semester course followed by 2 weeks in France, we learned about food production (wine, champagne, cheese, bread and France’s large agricultural industry), French and European Union agricultural regulations, and how the United States, France and European Union work together. It was a great, well rounded experience to learn all about the different aspects of agriculture in France. This course had a profound effect on my future as you will read later. Then after my junior year, I traveled to Ireland with the Ag Advocate group to learn about Agricultural Leadership. While in Ireland we visited several universities, international business and a United Nations Organization. Both these courses introduced me to agriculture around the world which sparked my interest even more.

Andy Schlegel

An SPS Distance Learning workshop held in Pakistan

Now back to that France trip. During class in France, we received a visit from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Ag Attaché that was based in Paris. He told us about how it was his job to represent United States agriculture in France and the European Union. His job intrigued me and I developed an interest in exploring this position more. How could I represent United States agriculture and get to live in a great city like Paris. I had to find out. I even told him at a later meeting that one day I would have his job. Flash forward to after graduation, and after keeping in touch with another Penn State alumni who worked at FAS, here I am. I decided on a career path with FAS because I love the combination of working in agriculture and also seeing international aspects of it. Seeing and experiencing how other countries produce their food interests me. How does this country’s laws and policies affect trade and production in other countries. It’s so interesting. Just knowing that agriculture is much bigger than just in a county or state is leading to more people thinking globally about food production. So I decided on my career path because I wanted to think of agriculture as a global aspect to this ever changing world. It took a little while but I made my career happen by taking classes that were not specific to my major of Food Science. I took some animal science, plant science, Ag Extension and Education, Rural Sociology and other courses. It gave me a really good diverse background. Then I kept in contact with the Penn State Ag Sciences alumni who works at FAS and she helped me with my resume and gave me advice for the interview process. So to all you students out there, reach out to alumni, we are always willing to help.

Andy Schlegel

Risk Inspection and Phytosanitary Certification workshop held in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Right now most of my work is development related, but it’s a little different than regular development work. I work a lot with Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) issues related to animal and plant health around the world. There are several things that I enjoy about my position. First is the amount of projects I get to work on. One project can be helping a country set up an FMD vaccination program to help control the disease. Another could be helping a university set up a model dairy farm so they can do outreach to farmers. Or helping connect scientists in the United States to scientists in another country to help stop the spread of cotton viruses or wheat rust. Or helping farmers and producers in Haiti understand how to track fruit flies and properly treat mangos so they can be traded. I also get to work with amazing people here at FAS, overseas in embassies, other USDA agencies, other government agencies, NGOs, United Nations and so much more. There is just so much happening and I can come into work each day and something new could be going on. Plus I get to travel a lot domestically as well, and learn about agriculture in different parts of the United States. So far I have traveled to Texas to learn about cotton production, Wisconsin and Illinois to learn about the dairy industry, Fort Collins, Colorado to learn about wildlife diseases and management, Philadelphia to learn about import and export procedures at ports. It’s been a lot but really fun at the same time. I also enjoy knowing the fact that when I travel overseas that I am representing USDA and United States agriculture. A lot of countries want to learn how we produce our food and how we implement our agricultural systems in the United States. It’s a very neat experience and I really enjoy it.

Andy Schlegel Andy Schlegel

(left) Lab day at the International Wildlife Disease Monitoring and Management Course in Colorado. (Right) Buffalo calves at the FAO office in Pakistan

Andy Schlegel

International Wildlife Disease Monitoring and Management Course in Colorado.

My advice to current students; find that one thing that really interests you and go after it. Do everything you can, learn everything that you can because you never know where that interest might take you. Who would have guessed that this Central Pennsylvania guy with an interest in agriculture and traveling would end up in Washington, DC, traveling the world for work. It’s truly amazing but don’t be afraid to take some chances along the way either. Secondly, reach out to alumni. We are all Penn Staters and we want to see each other succeed. Alumni give great advice and who knows later on down the road they might be the ones who are looking to fill positions.

Andy Schlegel

Visiting the Sassy Cow Creamery Diary in Madison, Wisconsin for the FAS Junior Professionals Weeklong trip

Andy Schlegel

Ireland