About IFYE

Guiding Principle #06

We believe the IFYE experience provides the participant with leadership development opportunities
which will enhance his/her capacity to have a major positive impact 
as a citizen of the USA and the world.

Tom and Jo Ann (Smith) Trail’s IFYE experiences started in Idaho and Virginia where they were involved in 4-H, went to National 4-H Club Congress, and became interested in learning more about different cultures and how people lived and worked. 

Both were IFYEs in 1956 – Tom (Idaho to Nepal) and Jo Ann (Virginia to Sweden). After their return, they met at an IFYE conference and married in 1959. Their daughter, Ruth, became an IFYE in 1982. Following are some of their experiences in leadership development “as a citizen of the USA and the world.”

Left: One of Tom's host fathers. As a "Gurkha" the stipend paid him by the British government allowed him to send his children to college. 


Training and long-term international work
Due to their IFYE experiences, Tom and Jo Ann attended Montana State University (MSU) as scholars at the International Cooperation Center. This program, including intensive Spanish training, prepared them to work and teach overseas. 

Ruth in first grade in Chile – Although left-handed, she is shown using her right hand in school.

Their first trip after MSU was to Patzcuaro, Michoacán, Mexico, where they worked with local Extension personnel. Here Jo Ann used her Spanish and learned to bargain at markets, skills she still uses.

The Trail family (all 5) spent several years in South America while Tom worked:

  • for the Heifer Project in Ecuador in conjunction with the Peace Corps. 
  • three years with the University of Minnesota Swine Project as an Extension agent in Animal Science. He also taught at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile in Santiago. He helped farmers double their yield of wheat and their swine production.
  • two years through the University of Nebraska in Bogota, Colombia as an Extension Training Specialist, training the local trainers to teach the local farmers.

Back to the USA
The family moved to Pullman, Washington in 1971 where Tom was the Staff Development Specialist for the Extension Service. He also became Chairman of the Masters of Continuing Education which had older students. One of his doctoral students from India, Carolyn James, established a vocational school for lower caste women in southern India. 

In 1972, they moved to Moscow, Idaho, purchasing Tom’s parents’ home where they still live. The Mountain View 4-H Club, established by the Trails (with Tom’s brother and wife), is still active. All seven Trail children were club members, won trips to 4-H Club Congress and five won national scholarships. 

Tom – Sabbatical and Short-Term Consulting
In 1979, Tom took a sabbatical from Washington State University (WSU) to teach Extension at Lincoln College on New Zealand’s South Island. The Trail children went to a local high school.  

Tom also did short-term consulting with USAID in Malawi, Sudan, Lesotho, Swaziland, other African countries, Central Asia, and South America in the 1980s and 1990s. He worked on five continents over his 40 years with Extension, including his sabbatical.  

Tom received the International Agriculture Achievement Award from Clayton Yeutter, Secretary of Agriculture in 1989.

Hosting
In the 1980s, the Trails hosted two IFYEs from Denmark and the Netherlands as well as an American Field Service Exchange student from Belgium, Dirk Dansercoer. Dirk became a world-renowned Polar Explorer. In 1983-84, they hosted a Chinese teacher who taught English at Moscow High School.  

Jo Ann and Tom were the host family to Isle of Man scholars who attended classes for a year at the University of Idaho (U of I) in the 2010s through the Ella Olesen Scholarship. Each year, Ruth met them when they flew into Seattle, showing them the city, before they flew to Moscow.

Ruth (left) and her four Van Der Stouwe host sisters on a return visit to the Netherlands in 2016. She has visited her host country at least 15 times and hopes to visit again in 2023.

Ruth – IFYE to the Netherlands and her current career

  • Ruth knew she wanted to be an IFYE from a young age as the family attended IFYE Conferences and made many friends at these. 
  • In 1982, Ruth was an IFYE to the Netherlands where she spent six months living with seven host families mostly on dairy, pig, and potato farms. She enjoyed the challenge of learning Dutch.  She says, “It was hard to learn Dutch as everyone wanted to practice their English with me.” She used sign language with a host mother who didn’t speak a word of English. She also spoke at a conference in the Netherlands about her IFYE experience and its impact on her life.   
  • When she returned from the Netherlands, she pursued a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from WSU. Ruth has been working as a Senior Sales Manager at an historic hotel in Seattle and uses her skills learned in 4-H and as an IFYE. In her work, she meets people from all over the world, finds something in common with people she meets, and continues to be flexible. 

Jo Ann – Work and Community Service

  • Jo Ann served on the IFYE Board of Directors in the 1970s.
  • In 1986, when Tom went to Malawi for 4 years to help establish a national extension service at Bunda College, Jo Ann taught at a British International School in the country.  
  • Upon returning to Idaho, Jo Ann began working at the U of I’s International Friendship Association with international students and people of the community.  
  • She established the “Cruise the World at the U of I” where the international students showcased their countries with a variety of foods/music. She oversaw the international flag collection which now numbers over 100 countries.
  • Jo Ann developed Culture Kits containing items from different countries to be shared with local schools and civic groups throughout Idaho. Through these, students became more aware of what the world is like outside of the U.S.  
  • In 1996, Jo Ann took an educational tour to Saudi Arabia for two weeks. It was a huge culture shock as she didn’t see any women for nine days and she had to wear a burqa. 
  • She was also one of 33 in the USA who won the 2000 International Millenium Award.    

Community Service
The Trail’s activities have also included: 

  • Tom’s service in Idaho’s House of Representatives for 16 years (1994-2012) after his retirement from WSU. He is most proud of helping to pass the: 
    • Minimum wage for the Migrant Workers and Opportunity Scholarships for low-income students, 
    • PERSI (Public Employees Retirement System Inc.) which increased the payoffs for retirees, and 
    • HEMP legislation allowing farmers to farm hemp in Idaho. 
  • Tom’s 6-year term as Idaho AARP President, working to pass better legislation for retired Idahoans.
  • Their scholarship work: the Anjum Sadiq Memorial Scholarship for international students; the Tom and Jo Ann Trail International 4-H Scholarship to be used for LABO, IFYE, and States 4-H Exchange. 
  • Ruth is currently Vice President for the Puget Sound Business Travel Association and attends their international conventions.  

In Summary
It has been a fruitful marriage of almost 62 years, traveling the world, developing leaders, and becoming citizens of the world. 

Left to right: Tom Trail (Idaho to Nepal 1956), Ruth Trail (Idaho to the Netherlands 1982), Jo Ann (Smith) Trail (Virginia to Sweden 1956).
(At 2016, European IFYE Conference in Estonia where Tom and Jo Ann received an award for their 60th IFYE anniversary.)

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