News & Events

News Articles/Testimonials


Melissa Haberstroh, IFYE National Program Director traveled to Zambia and Tanzania in August to officially kick-off the new IFYE programs in those countries. Aside from the opportunity to meet the country coordinators, discuss program details, and visit the families that our IFYEs would later become a part of, it was an opportunity to officially sign the memorandums of agreement for each country.

Despite having programs in many African countries over the years, Tanzania has only hosted one IFYE Representative, Larry Fritzler, in 2012. Between 1970 and 1984 the United States sent seven IFYE Representatives to Zambia and between 1967 and 1978 seventeen IFYEs to Kenya.

This year, five IFYEs are being hosted in Africa: Tori Rasmussen (SD) and Kyle Newland (OH) in Tanzania; Abby Schmidt (MO) and Meghan O’Reilly (OH) in Zambia, as well as Nora Larson (ND) in Kenya. IFYEs arrived in their African host countries on September 17, 2023 and will return to the U.S. in mid-December for debriefing.

IFYE’s efforts to renew the 2019 Memorandum of Understanding with the USDA has proved successful as we have received the document with Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack’s signature. IFYE President Jan Wood and Interim Executive Director Carolyn Hansen began the effort to gain a renewed agreement in December 2022. The agreement is for a term of five years. We appreciate the efforts of USDA staff to assist with this process.

The goal of the MOU is to "promote the common goals of advancing the public interest through developing a highly prepared workforce for unique careers within the industry of international agriculture through rural-based international exchanges."

By Meghan O'Reilly, 2023 IFYE to Taiwan (Summer) and Zambia (Fall)
September 15, 2023

As a Northeast Ohio native and local grower of food grade soybeans, that are sold internationally, I never imagined I would have the opportunity to see where our soybeans were sold. I also never imagined I would be eating tofu as a staple in my diet. I can officially say that I am currently fulfilling both of these items and thoroughly enjoying it!

My name is Meghan O’Reilly, and I am a 2023 USA IFYE to Taiwan. I am spending the three months traveling, learning, and experiencing what Taiwan has to offer, specifically their agriculture industry. When I embarked on my IFYE experience I did not know that it would allow me to sit in on an international business meeting. Dan Schwartz, owner of Schwartz Farms in Cortland, Ohio, and his direct buyer of food grade soybeans in Taiwan, Mr. Lin, happened to be meeting to discuss purchase contracts for the upcoming year. This unexpected meeting showed me the end of the producer to consumer chain that my home farm is part of as a soybean grower.

With some travel we began our meeting at the storage facility for the soybeans. Once the soybeans arrive in Taiwan, they must be stored in an air-conditioned facility due to the elevated temperatures and humidity. This ensures the beans do not ferment and a quality product is being sold to every buyer. After a short warehouse tour, we sat down with a glass of freshly brewed green tea and got right down to business. As I listened to Mr. Lin's friend and translator explain the concerns and future business goals of Mr. Lin to Dan Schwartz, I realized just how important it was to have a face-to-face meeting.

By Nora Larson, 2023 IFYE to Switzerland (Summer) and Kenya (Fall)

Biohof-Wattwil is the Bio Suisse farm run by the Zimmerman family. They start the day at 7am with a breakfast of bread, jam, muesli, and coffee. Peter (60s) is fascinated by North Dakota agriculture, loves Simmental cattle, and has a plethora of witty one-liners in both Deutsche and English. Doris (60s) is the thoughtful mother with an exploitative attitude towards music and a hearty dislike for bunnies. Bettina (30s) is strong, capable, funny, and a thoughtful daughter who will take on the farm when Peter turns 65. All are hard working folks with a love for nature and passion for animal husbandry.

My time in Switzerland has been full of fascinating conversations and new perspectives on how a farm can look. After a few days on the farm I approached Bettina about answering some interview questions that would help paint a better picture of what it means to be a Bio Suisse Farm. I hope you find it as interesting as I did to put together.

RFD Radio's Jim Taylor interviewed Carolyn Hansen, IFYE Interim Executive Director, during the July 13, 2023 edition of RFD Today. In the interview, Carolyn covered all aspects of the foreign exchange program, to include the history of IFYE, her involvement with the 75 year old premier cultural exchange program for young adults, the current IFYE participants and their host countries, the upcoming 75th anniversary celebration, connection to 4-H and more.

Click the yellow/white play button to listen to RFD Today's entire July 13th podcast. If you'd like to skip straight to Carolyn's interview, move your cursor over the podcast timeline at the bottom to advance the player to the 34:00 minute mark.

The 2023 IFYE Orientation was held from June 14-19, 2023, in Washington D.C. for 22 inbound and outbound IFYE Representatives.

Arrival dates were staggered so that the Outbound IFYEs could visit Capitol Hill. IFYEs had the opportunity to meet with their Congressional Members and while there discuss the IFYE Program and its value. Ohio Delegates Meghan O’Reilly and Kyle Newland met with Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan. Delegates from North and South Dakota met with South Dakota Senator John Thune and discussed the upcoming Farm Bill and its potential impact on IFYE. Stephan Rolle and Michael Conger met with Georgia Representative Austin Scott’s Ag Legislative Advisor. Others enjoyed a tour of the Capitol and a visit to the nearby Botanical Gardens.

An Orientation Training Team consisting of Hannah Nordby (2018 ND to Taiwan and Thailand), Amaris Daniels (2019 FL to Taiwan and Thailand); Traci Ross Sherlock (2022 KS to Norway); and National Program Director Melissa Ruyle Haberstroh (1988 TX to Belgium and 1992 to Botswana). Joint sessions were held for both inbounds and outbounds and included a variety of topics designed to prepare the IFYE Representatives with techniques necessary to communicate effectively abroad; discuss sensitive subjects without offending others; and document their IFYE experience through photographs and journaling

April 6, 2023 - Author: Janis Brinn, Michigan State University Extension
Adapted from original article approved by Janis Brinn for viewing on IFYE.

Michigan IFYE delegate and Michigan State University graduate Carly Claucherty shared her story traveling to Germany:

"While in Germany, I had the opportunity to try so many new things. My IFYE journey began in a small, German wine village where I stayed with a family that owned a laboratory, which provides the local winemakers with testing so they can produce the most high-quality wines. As part of the German wine route, Birkweiler is quite a tourist destination despite boasting a population of just 700 residents.

"While there, I was able to learn about winemaking, hand-harvest Riesling grapes with a local winemaker’s crew, and then test it in the lab. It was quite the challenge to learn how to use the machines and computer program for the testing when everything was in German! But through patient communication with my host family, I quickly became a part of the team.

Melissa Haberstroh, IFYE National Program Director, and Stephanie Graham (SC to Costa Rica 1993) attended the Farm Bill Congressional Listening Session in Waco, TX on March 15, 2023. Melissa was able to address the Listening Panel on behalf of IFYE.

Participating in the listening panel were Representatives: Committee Chair Glenn “G.T." Thompson (PA-15), Vice Chair Austin Scott (GA-08), Jasmine Crockett (TX-30), Cat Cammack (FL-03), Ronnie Jackson (TX-13), Pete Sessions (TX-17), Jim Baird (IN-04), and Tracey Mann (KS-01). Also participating was American Farm Bureau Federation President, Zippy Duvall. Click Read More below to watch a video of Melissa Haberstroh address the Listening Panel on IFYE's behalf.

IFYE was an exhibitor at the Commodity Classic Trade Show to recruit future IFYE participants, create awareness with many farmers, and meet with representatives of agri-businesses in hopes of raising funds! Rebecca Pratt and Phillip Wessel (both 2022 IFYEs sponsored by the United Soybean Board) along with Mary Springer (IFYE Grant writer) and Carolyn Hansen (IFYE Interim Executive Director), attended the Commodity Classic from Thursday, March 9th through Saturday, March 11th in Orlando, FL.

Sanders Barbee, a 2022 participant in the IFYE international commodity leadership program, shared her summer adventure and experience in Morocco on SORGHUM SMART TALK recently. Click the podcast link to listen!

In December 2022, The BRANDT Foundation published their Winter 2022 Grants Spotlight outlining five grants they awarded to a variety of charitable organizations. One of the grants was awarded to IFYE USA. Below is an excerpt from their Grants Spotlight.

"The IFYE Association of the USA - The BRANDT Foundation grant will be used to help fund the international agriculture education exchange program, which provides young adults with opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of their work through international exchange and cultural immersion. Since IFYE was established, it has helped place young adults in more than 90 countries.

Adapted from Dan Sullivan's Lancaster Farming article, Dec 19, 2022, Updated Dec 27, 2022
The International Farm Youth Exchange program (IFYE) was established by young U.S. soldiers returning home from World War II with the goal of fostering “peace through understanding” between individuals, families and host countries.

“It was four guys from Cornell that started the whole movement, which is pretty cool,” said IFYE USA interim Executive Director Carolyn Hansen, fresh off the trail trying to drum up funding for the program on Capitol Hill in Washington.

“When they came back, they were students at Cornell University,” said Hansen, who served as an IFYE ambassador to the Philippines in 1972. “They had lived with those families during the occupation after the war. And they're the ones who kind of got together and said, ‘You know, we need to do something to avoid future world wars. And the best way to do that is by getting to know the people in their homes, in their families and understanding the culture.’ So that was the premise of what started the program.”

IFYE Association of the USA, Inc.
Jan Wood, President

Following an internal posting and search for a new National Program Director (NPD), IFYE Association of the USA, Inc. President Jan Wood is pleased to announce that Melissa D. Haberstroh has been offered and accepted the position. Melissa began her NPD duties on Jan. 2, 2023, succeeding Alan Lambert who held the post for nine years.

Her responsibilities include expanding the number of US outbound delegates; collaborating with participating states and countries; and building relationships with other domestic and international entities focused on cross-cultural exchanges for young adults.

Haberstroh was an IFYE two times: Belgium in 1988 and Botswana in 1992. In addition, she served on the IFYE Association of the USA, Inc. Board of Directors from 1998 to 2000.

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.

Broomfield, Colorado, Oct. 20 – Recognizing the value an international experience can have on young leaders, the United Soybean Board (USB) recently approved a proposal from the IFYE Association of the USA, Inc. to immerse eight of its young leaders in international experiences for three months in four European and Asian countries. IFYE, formerly known as the International Farm Youth Exchange (IFYE) is a 72-year-old international exchange program for young adults age 19 and above.

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.

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.

AG Foreign Exchange Program - RFD-TV Interview with Ken Gordon

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

(This article has been approved by Jager Robinson, Tri-State Neighbor Reporter for use on the IFYE Association of the USA, Inc. website.)

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.

International Job Shadowing Experience Pilot Program Enhancement Successful with Syngenta
Job shadowing has been around for many years, but adding an international component is a new twist on an tried and true way to learn. The new addition to the IFYE Association of the USA, Inc. (formerly International Farm Youth Exchange) program adds the opportunity not only to live with a host family, but to job shadow professionally with a member of the family as well.

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.

So what language do people speak in Switzerland, anyway? 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.

Rachel Manning (Maryland – 2016)
Reflecting back (on what seems like only yesterday) I was heading on a plane traveling for my first time to Asia, specifically to the Republic of Korea. Even though my time in Korea has come to an end and I’m journeying through the second half of my IFYE program in Thailand, I made many fond memories and gained lifelong friendships.

At 19 years old Rita Koch had never tasted apple pie. She’d also never had baked beans or made s’mores. Not because she didn’t want to, but because where she is from, in the mountains of Austria, things like baked beans and apple pie are unheard of. 

That all changed for Koch this summer when she visited the United States as an exchange student through the International 4-H Youth Exchange. 

WAVERLY – A young lady from Devon, England is spending the next several weeks with Tom and Paula Peterson of rural Waverly.

Alice Giles is taking part in the IFYE program, a program that brings guests from other countries into homes to learn about their culture.