Expanding experiential learning from the classroom to the world

By Heidi Happonen


very summer, students in the College of Agricultural Sciences have the unique opportunity to explore the world with a small group of peers under faculty guidance. To ensure access to these opportunities for more students, the college works to provide scholarship opportunities through a variety of experiential learning programs, including the Global Experience Fund and other gifts made by alumni, stakeholders, and others who value the educational and life changing impact of getting out of our comfort zones and experiencing the world beyond the classroom.

These pages detail a handful of these experiences that took place over the summer of 2023 made possible from these meaningful gifts.


A “classroom” visit while touring the CFA de la Gastronomie Auvergne-Rhône-Alps, a public culinary school in Lyon. Dominique Bachelet photo

FACULTY: James Sterns and Dominique Bachelet

DEPARTMENT:  Applied Economics &
Oregon Climate Change Research Institute


The programming on this trip was designed to support the academic content of two, 2-credit Honors College colloquia: “Experiencing French Food and Culture – From Commodities to Cafes” (taught by James Sterns) and “Exploring France’s Response to Climate Change (taught by Dominique Bachelet).

No matter how good of an instructor I might aspire to be in an on-campus classroom setting, I could never come close to the quality, depth, and comprehensiveness of the learning that transpires when I am with students on a study abroad program.

James Sterns, Associate Professor
of Applied Economics

By forcing me out of my comfort zone and into a whole new culture, this experience has given me the wonderful opportunity to grow both as a student and as a person.

Hannah Granger, Junior, Ecological Engineering & Honors College


United Kingdom (England & Scotland)

Ecampus students of all backgrounds participated in the program, in majors ranging from Agricultural Sciences to Psychology and Botany. They hailed from across the U.S. and as far as Tunisia. Dawn Moyer photo

FACULTY: Dawn Moyer and Melissa Millhollin

DEPARTMENT: Agricultural Education & Agricultural Sciences

STUDENTS: 14 from all four campuses (Corvallis, Ecampus, LaGrande, and Cascades)

The goal of this trip is to learn about agricultural practices in the U.K.—past, present, and future. We explore the impact of Brexit on the agricultural sector in terms of trade and labor, assess how climate change is impacting farming practices, and examine how longstanding traditions such as ‘open field’ farming are modernizing alongside developing new sustainable agricultural practices.

I teach a class called “Please Go Away: Global Opportunities for All,” which I hope helps College of Ag students start thinking about internationalizing their experience, whether via my programs abroad or other opportunities. I have seen countless students have an “Aha!” moment while abroad, or return with a completely changed perspective, a new curiosity about others. I have been at OSU 20 years and the impact of an international or cross-cultural experience is still the biggest thrill for me.

Dawn Moyer, Lead Advisor for the Agricultural Sciences major

In Tobermory, I learned about the creamery’s closed-loop system, something that I am very interested in as I am focusing on sustainable horticulture and the cheese-making process. Everywhere we went on the property felt like it was very purposeful, and I think that is something that we need more of in agriculture sometimes.

McKenzie Baker (Corvallis campus), Sophomore, Horticulture major



Dave Stone and students tour the forest in Ecuador looking for native flora and fauna. Dave Stone photo

FACULTY: Dave Stone and
Evie Smith (Extension)

DEPARTMENT: Food Science and Technology

STUDENTS: 16 (Including Ecampus students
from six states)

Traveling across Ecuador, including the Galapagos Islands, Quito, Mindo and the Manabi Coast students visited shrimp farms, coffee farms, chocolate orchards, and many more examples of sustainable agriculture. Sampling excellent Ecuadorian cuisine along the way, students saw first-hand the many examples of the amazing biodiversity of Ecuador while exploring the importance and impact of food sovereignty and agricultural sustainability and conservation of biodiversity from Ecuadorian farmers, scientists and professionals from across Ecuador.


International travel was transformative for me as a graduate student.I wanted to make sure to provide similar opportunities for students, particularly low resources students, to help them on their journey as global citizens.I chose Ecuador because it is a famously biodiverse country that is under pressure to develop their resources. They have a strong commitment to sustainable practices in food and agriculture and I wanted students to see their approach and contrast it to their experience. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Ecuadorians are wonderful people with delicious cuisine.

Dave Stone, Associate Dean of International Programs

The entire experience of traveling to Ecuador with faculty and other students and immersing myself in another culture was life-changing. I feel like it helped me become a better version of myself.

Carly Cooperider, Crop and Soil Science major


New Zealand

2023 Program Participants, Program Leaders, and Bus Driver in the Fiordlands on the path to Milford Sound. Tom Maxwell photo

FACULTY: Serkan Ates, Paul Dorres, Jennifer Cruickshank

DEPARTMENT: Animal and Rangeland Sciences


The main focus of the program was the sustainable pastoral farming systems of New Zealand. The program involved studying the soil, plant, atmosphere, animal, human continuum involved in ruminant animal meat, milk, and wool production.


This course was unlike any other—a perfect blend of classroom theory, hands-on learning experiences, and breathtaking farm visits that left us in awe of the picturesque beauty of Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud. The connection between the land, livestock, and community was evident in every conversation we had. I am sure our students departed with a profound appreciation for New Zealand’s sustainable pastoral landscapes and the dedication of those who work tirelessly to protect them. I am so proud of our students, who were a smart and inquisitive group of bright young people. They did a fantastic job of representing OSU.

Serkan Ates, Associate Professor of Animal and Rangeland Sciences

The beauty of the landscape is only surpassed by the generosity and kindness of the people. Informative, hands-on educational experiences, great company, and even tastier food. Seriously, amazing food. Hokey Pokey ice cream is a must try! A truly amazing experience.

Kevin Carver, M.S. student in Rangeland Ecology & Management



Ancient stone money deep in the Rock Islands of Palau. James Sterns photo

FACULTY: Scott Heppell and Bryan Endress

DEPARTMENT: Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences

STUDENTS: 16 OSU students plus Palau Community College student participation

Palau is globally recognized as a leading innovator in sustainable resource management and conservation. This two-week course allows students to explore the culture, ecosystems, and management practices of the island nation, and learn how communities work together with nonprofits and government agencies to address the challenges of a changing climate. 


Experiential learning opportunities not only transform how we perceive the world but also shape our personal and professional identities. They open minds, broaden perspectives, and foster a deeper understanding of the world. Studying abroad had a profound impact on me when I was an undergraduate student, and I am incredibly fortunate to be able to provide transformational opportunities for our students… to do so in the beautiful country of Palau is amazing!

Bryan Endress, Assistant Director, Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center

This is the BEST class I have ever taken and will ever take in my life. There is no way to compare it to anything else in the way it both challenged me and changed me. It opened my mind to new possibilities I didn’t know were out there, as I am the first generation in my family to travel abroad. I was able to see how humanity and science overlap, and visualize a future world in which we take better care of the earth.

Alanna Johnson-Finn, Psychology major



OSU students engaged with and learned from Universidad Autónoma Chapingo students about ongoing research in precision agriculture, focusing on the use of drones and robots from the Mechanical and Agricultural Engineering Department. Clarisa Caballero-Ignacio photo

FACULTY: Ricardo Mata-Gonzalez and Clarisa Caballero-Ignacio

DEPARTMENT: College of Agricultural Sciences


The program consisted of experiencing ancient and modern-day agriculture in Mexico while learning from agricultural researchers, visiting cultural and archeological sites, and enjoying authentic Mexican cuisine. Students visited Xochimilco and learned about the ancient “Chinampa” technique, toured an agave farm, and visited the campus of Universidad Autónoma Chapingo to engage with their students. We also toured downtown Mexico City, a firefly sanctuary, and the pyramids at Teotihuacán. 


This program provides the opportunity to connect College of Agricultural Sciences (CAS), including College Assistant Migrant Program (CAMP) students to their ancestral roots and culture. I am proud to be part of the efforts to serve underrepresented students by giving them the voice and power to learn the value of food security in Mexico and the US. The students’ vision to bring back what they learned and experienced to the OSU community is empowering.

Clarisa Caballero-Ignaci, Coordinator of Student Outreach and Retention

The significance of this program extended far beyond the boundaries of a typical study abroad experience in Mexico. It was a transformative journey that offered students not only the chance to immerse themselves in a new country but also to forge a profound connection with their own heritage and roots.

Victoria C. Flores-Parra Animal Sciences Student

More information about OSU Global Opportunities

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