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K-State Today

December 5, 2023

K-State students participate in Taiwan Agricultural Youth Exchange

Submitted by Dan Moser

Kansas delegates from left: Jack Arender, Katie Cummings, Annika Wiebers, Corley Becker, Rachel Sebesta and Alex Scovill at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in Taiwan. The students traveled in November 2023 as part of the Taiwan Agricultural Youth Exchange. 

Six Kansas State University students traveled to Taiwan in November 2023 to represent the state as part of the Taiwan Agricultural Youth Exchange program, a bilateral student exchange program to learn about Taiwan's agricultural industry and how Kansas agriculture exports benefit both Kansas and Taiwan. The students were selected by the Kansas Department of Agriculture, or KDA, based on their exceptional leadership and communication skills, an interest in cultural exchange, and passion for Kansas agriculture.

"During their time in Taiwan, these students gained new perspectives, learned how to navigate a different culture, and communicated across a language barrier," said Suzanne Ryan-Numrich, international trade director at KDA. "As future leaders, these skills will prepare them to solve the world's toughest challenges, make them more competitive in the job market, and help transform them into more responsible, engaged citizens."

The six Kansas State University students who participated were: Jack Arender, sophomore in agribusiness, Overland Park; Corley Becker, senior in agricultural education and animal science, Seneca; Annika Wiebers, senior in agricultural communications, Wamego; Rachel Sebesta, senior in agricultural education and global food systems leadership, agronomy and anthropology, Wilson; Alex Scovill, junior in agricultural education and animal science, Laingsburg, Michigan; and Katie Cummings, sophomore in agricultural education, Spencer, West Virginia

While in Taiwan, the students visited the National Chung Hsing University, interacted with Taiwanese students, met with the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and visited local farms and research institutes across Taiwan.

"The trip to Taiwan was fascinating," said Becker. "Traveling with the Taiwanese students allowed us to immerse ourselves in the culture more thoroughly, especially with traditions, food, and talking about life experiences. Taiwan is a very diverse agricultural country with farmers who strive for success and sustainability. It was very interesting to learn about their farming and business practices. This experience was once in a lifetime, and I was so glad that I was able to visit."

Scovill added, "From eating our way through crowded night markets to harvesting wide open passion fruit fields, and up and down mountain roads, the Kansas delegates saw the true beauty of Taiwan. And beyond the sights, traveling with us up and down the coast of the island nation was a set of new friends who showed us all how to appreciate our surroundings. The trip was a blessing of an experience, and I cannot wait for the Taiwanese students to come experience agriculture in Kansas in the spring."

The trip was coordinated by KDA and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Denver, Colorado. The trip was sponsored by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, the K-State College of Agriculture and KDA.

Opportunities such as the Taiwan Agricultural Youth Exchange program provide tremendous knowledge and networking to the delegates. In 2022, Kansas exported $225 million in agricultural products to Taiwan and Taiwan was our sixth-largest trading partner. Exports to Taiwan have been steadily increasing for the last five years. International relationships with countries such as Taiwan help open opportunities for more exports in the future.

Each fall, KDA coordinates the Taiwan Agricultural Youth Exchange program application process which is open to college students. For more information, please contact Dana Ladner at KDA at 785-564-6660 or Dana.Ladner@ks.gov.