See the world, then come home
By Trent Loos
Several weeks ago I conducted a radio interview with Lindsey Calhoun of the National FFA Foundation about the upcoming International Collegiate Agricultural Leadership (I-CAL) trip to Brazil. Through this program, 12 outstanding college students in the industry get the opportunity to spend nearly two weeks in Brazil.
I'm really not that old but when I graduated from high school in 1984, students rarely traveled abroad unless it was with their parents, and today it seems to be commonplace. To that I give a big Loos Tales "hats off" because so much can be learned about how good we have it here at home when we get into other countries.
I have only been to one continent other than North America and that was Australia and I went each of the past two years. Every time I tell someone that I had the great opportunity to speak in Australia, they usually say, "Oh, I could live there."
I really enjoy Australia and would love to go every year but in no way, shape or form do Australian citizens have any advantage on us. In fact with all the concerns today about the direction our government is heading, it seems we are simply trying to catch up with the more socialist ways of Australia.
While it can hardly be called "international" travel these days, you do need a passport to go north of the border into Canada. On average, I get the chance to do that about three times each year. It is very similar to Australia in that it is a great place to visit but not somewhere I would want to move.
The biggest thing that is accomplished with all of this international travel is that you come home and truly appreciate how good we have it here. My hope is that it would serve as a tremendous motivation to never be complacent and allow ourselves to lose any more of the freedoms that we enjoy as American citizens.
Another aspect that is completely "foreign" to countries outside of the U.S. is junior livestock projects and shows like we have here in the states. No other country in the world is as dedicated to creating opportunities for young agriculturalist as America. In fact, it is common in Australia for kids to go off to boarding school instead of doing chores every day on the family farm before getting on the bus.
I cannot begin to remember all of the conversations I have had with other farm folks in Canada or Australia explaining that we raise "show pigs." That opportunity is only afforded to our young people, as exhibitors, because of the dedication and pride of the older generations who understand the many benefits it offers to those who are willing and able to participate.
In your travels you can also learn how easy it might be to lose those things that are near and dear to our hearts. So I urge you to sail the ocean blue and ride through the clouds above to see the world and then you will learn how truly precious this U.S. soil and the freedoms that go with truly are.
Editor's note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com, or email Trent at firstname.lastname@example.org.