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Foreign Exchange Program | IFYE USA

News Articles/Testimonials

Celebrating Eid al-Adha

The Islamic holiday, Eid al-Adha also known as the Feast of Sacrifice, landed during my time as an IFYE to Morocco. This holiday celebrates the willingness of Ibrahim to follow Allah’s orders to sacrifice his son. Before Ibrahim sacrificed his son, Allah rewarded him for his obedience and willingness to sacrifice his own son. God gave him a lamb to sacrifice instead. Eid falls on the 10th day of the Islamic calendar; it was on July 10th this year.

To celebrate, my IFYE sister Sanders Barbee (IFYE from Kansas) and I went with our country coordinator Mohammed to Ksar el Kebir to visit his family, some of whom came back from Spain and France. (It was 112°F when we arrived). From the beginning, it was a big party, as many family members had not seen each other for over two years due to COVID.

The night before Eid, the women took Sanders and me out to the local markets which were jampacked with people out for the holiday. As we returned, they told us that a lady was coming sometime around 3 a.m. to do henna for the women if we wanted to stay up. Sanders and I were shocked that anything would be happening at 3 a.m. but wanted to be a part of the tradition and told the family to wake us up when it was time. We woke the next morning to find they did not want to wake us up and generously asked the lady doing henna to come back later in the day to do ours.

Eight IFYEs returning home from six host countries recently stopped by the US Capitol for a “Meet-N-Greet” with Congressional staffers for Senators and Representatives on the Senate and House Agriculture Committees.

The IFYEs from Michigan, Kansas, Iowa, North Carolina, and Colorado shared real-life experiences gained in their two- and three-month stays in Morocco, South Korea, Austria, Norway, Germany, and Wales. They answered questions about the IFYE program and emphasized its history of sharing knowledge about international trade, innovative agriculture developments, and cultural factors often key to building world markets for U.S. agricultural products and services.

Held in a Capitol conference room (kindly arranged by Iowa Senator Joni Ernst and staff), the session was also attended by IFYE Association’s National Program Director Alan Lambert, Interim Executive Director Carolyn Hansen, President Janet Wood, IFYE Director Jessica Braxton, and IFYE alumni Hannah Norby, Amaris Daniels and Bob Jenkins. Ms. Wood commented: “IFYE is nonpartisan and we are meeting with key decision makers guiding the legislative process. IFYE sends exchangees abroad and welcomes them from other countries, too. We’ve been mostly self-funded by very generous alumni. To meet increasing participant interest in our program we are seeking added financial support via the 2023 Farm Bill."

2022 Inbound and Outbound IFYE Program The 2022 IFYE orientation was held mid-June in Washington, D.C. for 17 outbound and eight inbound IFYEs. They all have now completed their first host family stay.

Outbounds - Ten IFYEs will return to Washington, D.C. for debriefing September 10-12; the other seven will return in December. When the IFYEs return home, ask them to share their experiences with you, your family, and/or your community. For more information, contact Alan Lambert, National Program Director, 605.366.6107,

Inbounds - Fourteen (14) Inbound IFYEs from six countries (Austria, Germany, South Korea, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Wales) are being hosted in 11 states (CO, IA, IL, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, OH and SD).

Germany exchangee spends time in central Minnesota
By Maggie Molitor
Permission granted to use
Photos by Maggie Molitor
Sauk Rapids Herald
July 16, 2022, Pg 17-18

RICE, Minn. – Waking up to bellowing calves and the hustle and bustle of chores on a dairy farm created a new daily routine for Julia Kolb as she became accustomed to life in rural Minnesota.

The 24-year-old from Wörnitz, Germany, is participating in IFYE (established as the International Farm Youth Exchange TM in 1948), spending three months this summer with four families from across Minnesota. Kolb’s first three-week stay was with Mark and Natalie Schmitt on their dairy farm near Rice.

“I got involved with IFYE to gain more insights on agriculture in other countries and experience their cultures firsthand,” Kolb said. “I want to take the things I learn home and adapt them.”

Mark and Natalie Schmitt farm with their son, Austin, in Benton County near Rice. They milk 85 registered Holsteins and crop 400 acres of land.

Upon her arrival in Minnesota, Kolb immersed herself in the day-to-day happenings of the Schmitts as if she were one of the family – a unique aspect of the exchange program.

Broomfield, Colorado, December 1, 2021 – Recognizing the value an international experience can have on young leaders, the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP) recently approved a grant to the IFYE Association of the USA, Inc. for $13,060. The funding will be targeted to support a participant in the IFYE international commodity leadership program for the sorghum industry.

The program is designed to immerse participants in international understanding with a focus on agriculture trade relations. Research has shown that those who live internationally and interact with families in those countries have a greater appreciation for cultural diversity. IFYE, formerly known as the International Farm Youth Exchange (IFYE) is a 73-year-old international exchange program for young adults age 19 and above.

The participant will spend time at the U.S. Embassy for a first-hand trade relations experience with USDA Foreign Agriculture Service staff, as well as representatives of the U.S. Grains Council. Opportunities to also meet with in-country government agriculture officials and other country agriculture leaders while living with three to four host families may also be arranged.

The Halle Foundation Grants $45,000 to the IFYE Association for International Exchange

Broomfield, Colorado, Nov. 18, 2021 – Three young adults from Georgia will have the opportunity for a one-of-a-kind international experience thanks to a grant from The Halle Foundation of Atlanta, Georgia. The funding will support three participants from Georgia to experience Germany by living with families in different regions of the country through an IFYE Association of the USA, Inc. international program.

The program is designed to immerse participants in international understanding with a focus on learning and experiencing the German culture. Research has shown that those who live internationally and interact with families in those countries have a greater appreciation for cultural diversity. IFYE, founded as the International Farm Youth Exchange (IFYE) is a 73-year-old international exchange program for young adults age 19 and above.

The application process for this opportunity is now open for potential participants. Orientation will start in early March 2022. Candidates for the program will follow the IFYE application and interview procedures with final selections confirmed shortly after the new year.

IFYE’s Positive Impact on the World

2021 marks the 73rd year anniversary for the IFYE Association of the USA, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. It is the premier organization devoted to deep cultural exchange opportunities by sending young rural adults from the U.S. for two-, three- and six-month experiences living and working with rural based, host families in other countries.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a ceremony held today at USDA offices in Washington D.C., the IFYE Association of the USA, Inc. (IFYE) international exchange program was recognized by the United States Department of Agriculture for its contribution to international cultural understanding. The two organizations signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to advance the public interest in international agriculture through rural-based international exchanges. The MOU was signed by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Steve Censky and IFYE President Victoria Fehrmann Warren.

Incoming IFYE, Kelly Wakeman from the United Kingdom arrived on June 17, 2019 in South Dakota. Kelly, age 24, comes to us from Devon County, England, where she lives and works on her family’s 800 acre livestock and crop farm.

Kelly has spent the past three weeks near Colton, SD living and working with the Mark and Heidi Zwinger family. Heidi is the manager of Boadwine Dairy, a large-scale multi-site farm that milks over 2300 cows.

One way to spend a gap year between high school and college is on international exchange through the IFYE Association. Enjoy learning about Tarina, an IFYE from Finland, and her decision to travel for six months during her gap year between high school and college. Tarina’s homestay started in Switzerland for three months then finished in Michigan for three months, September through December 2018.

Kate wrote in her introduction on our website that "I have been attending IFYE conferences with my Grandmother since age 6. ... Not only did these conferences give me the chance to spend time with my wonderful Grandmother (who was an IFYE in 1956 to Wales and England!), but these conferences are also what have allowed me to fall in love with learning more about cultures that are different than my own by actually spending time immersing myself in said culture."

The IFYE Association conducts international exchange programs and cross-cultural education while promoting global awareness. The IFYE Foreign Exchange Program is for individuals 19 years old or older and typically lasts three or six months while changing host families every three to five weeks. As a participant in the program, you will live and work as part of the family. When Wei-Jia (Colin is his American name) from Taiwan decided to participate, he wanted to take the exchange to a new level and participate as a staff development experience as well.

This is Part 7 of Hannah Nordby's IFYE Experience detailing her travels in Thailand during the month of November along with Amanda Braun.

This is Part 5 of Jarrod Young's IFYE Experience summarizing his travels in November 2018.

Here are some of the things I've been snacking on. Not quite Thanksgiving Dinner but I'm not complaining!

An Unlikely Exchange
Jager Robinson, Tri-State Neighbor Reporter
This article has been approved by Robinson for viewing on IFYEUSA.ORG.

Living with six families over three months all while job shadowing is already a unique task. Add in moving to a completely new country and you have the life of Lisa Schmid, an International Farm Youth Exchange (IFYE) student.

This is Part 4 of Jarrod Young's IFYE Experience detailing his travels in October 2018.

I've been in schools all week so it felt appropriate to share a few pictures of some of the kids that made this trip memorable. I wish I had pictures of all of them but there are just too many Pikkmets.

This is Part 3 of Jarrod Young's IFYE Experience detailing his travels in October 2018.

This is recap of the first three months that Amanda Braun spent in South Korea before heading to Thailand. She wrote on Facebook, September 6th, "I am excited to go to Thailand but also sad because in the short time I’ve been here, I have fallen in love with this country.”

This is Part 2 of Jarrod Young's IFYE Experience detailing his travels in September 2018.

Sage Rodgers details his IFYE experience in Austria for the past three months!

Being in Austria for the past three months has been one for the books! I stayed with seven host families from almost every part of the country which allowed me to really see and experience the Austrian culture. The first place I stayed was in Helbetschlag, Oberösterreich where my host family operated a small dairy farm with which I helped. The family had a couple of children and they were learning English, so it was fun helping them further their knowledge of the language and to practice. The nearest town to this village was Friestadt which has been there since the early 1200s. Its name translates to “free town”.

Traveling abroad as a young adult is eye opening. Kate Garrity was fortunate to grow up around the IFYE organization and always knew she wanted to participate one day.
Enjoy reading about Michigan’s own Kate Garrity’s experience with IFYE Association on her abroad trip to India.

Maggie (M): Tell me a little about yourself.

Kate (K): I grew up in Bath, Michigan, and lived there my whole life. I am now 26 years old and have my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I received my undergrad at Michigan State University and my graduate from Appalachian State University—both were in nutrition and dietetics. I am currently working in nutrition at a hospital.

Languages in Switzerland - So what language do people speak in Switzerland, anyways? The answer depends on where you go. Switzerland has 4 official languages; German, French, Italian, and Romansh. Of these languages, German is the one that I have heard the most. Yet the Swiss actually speak a different language, called Swiss German.

From the rolling hills of Switzerland near the Alps to the grand grasslands of Nebraska’s Sandhills, one young man has hopped several time zones to keep it rural in the Good Life. From June - September, Christof Badertscher, 24, of Oberthal, Switzerland is staying with three host families in Nebraska through IFYE.

For Badertscher, this opportunity put Nebraska on his radar.

Rachel shares reflections of her first 3 months of her IFYE experience which was spent in South Korea.

October 2016 AFA (Agriculture Future of America) newsletter features an article about IFYE and two 2016 IFYE participants (Alyssa Dye and Kelley Dickman)