A Short History of The IFYE Association of the USA, Inc.
IFYE programs are facilitated and supported by the IFYE Association of the USA, Inc. These exchanges are conducted in collaboration with State IFYE Associations and State Coordinators.
The IFYE Exchange Program was founded after World War II as young Americans perceived the need for greater international understanding and cooperation. The first two-way exchange took place in 1948 with 17 youth from the United States traveling to seven (7) countries in Western Europe to live with host families. Six (6) young Europeans came to the United States to also live with host families. That exchange led to the development of the “International Farm Youth Exchange” (IFYE). United States participants live and work with host families in another country. Participants from other countries live with host families in the United States for an equal amount of time. The IFYE and the host family learn about each other’s culture and daily lives by participating in the host family’s daily life promoting “Peace Through Understanding.”
The National 4-H Foundation, and later the National 4-H Council, financially supported the six-month IFYE Program. The IFYE name was changed in 1973 to “International Four-H Youth Exchange.” Other programs, such as the 12- to 18-month “Youth Development Project” (YDP), evolved through the years, but IFYE remained the standard program in which most young adults participated.
In 1992, the National 4-H Council determined it would only provide programming to youth under the age of 19. This decision resulted in the loss of 4-H support and funding for the IFYE program nationally. Individual states were permitted to conduct IFYE programs directly with countries if the state provided the support.
In 1999, the IFYE Association of the USA, Inc. accepted the responsibility to support the continued funding of the IFYE Exchange program. The vision was to maintain support for existing exchange programs and expand support on a yearly basis. In 2012, the name of the Association was changed from “International 4-H Youth Exchange Association of the United States of America” to “IFYE Association of the USA, Inc.”
A Memorandum of Understanding was entered into and signed in Washington D.C. on November 6, 2019, between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the IFYE Association of the USA, Inc. for the purpose of working on the common goal of advancing the public interest in international agriculture through rural based international exchanges.
Exchanges have continued for more than 70 years, and more than 4,000 Americans have lived in 116 countries while a similar number of young people from those nations have come to the United States. Upon returning home, IFYE participants share their once-in-a-lifetime experiences with thousands of people in their communities, state, and nation.
The IFYE vision of “Peace through Understanding” continues to touch the lives of people around the globe.
Reviewed/Updated September 16, 2022