July 6, 2012
Agriculture professor, students exchange farming knowledge with Japanese faculty, students
By Ben Lawson, media assistant
Northwest Missouri State University students and faculty traveled across the globe June 7-17 to build a partnership between Northwest and Niigata University of International and Information Studies.
Dr. Jamie Patton, associate professor of agriculture; Mariah Stiens, a junior agronomy and horticulture major from Maryville; and Michael Brown, a junior agronomy major from Skidmore; to learn about Japanese agricultural practices near Niigata University while building student and faculty interactions.
“Agriculture experience outside our region and country is almost becoming required for a student to compete for jobs and to be successful in those careers,” Patton said. “Therefore, when Niigata University offered to host us this summer, we were thrilled to take advantage of such an amazing opportunity.”
Stiens, Brown and Patton learned about rice and vegetable farming techniques as well as cultural differences among farmers.
“Many of the faculty members (from Niigata University) were commenting that even though the culture and language is different, farmers are farmers wherever you go,” Patton said. “We were sharing the same experiences, talking about our love of the land, culturing the land, liking the small town lifestyle and the agony that being a farmer sometimes brings.”
Patton said she met several farmers who claimed their family had farmed the same land for six generations or more. One farmer, who said his family had been farming his land for eight generations, said Patton, Stiens and Brown were the first foreigners to step in his village since “the dawn of history.”
While at Niigata University, Patton, Stiens and Brown also helped the Japanese students practice their English by encouraging them to ask questions about living in America.
Northwest’s relationship with Niigata University is not entirely new. Students from Niigata University also come to Northwest to learn English as a second language. Patton also hopes to secure grant funding that could help bring Japanese farmers to visit farms in Missouri.
“Traveling to Japan was an incredible opportunity,” Stiens said. “I love discussing agriculture with others, and it was great to learn from people from such a different farming environment than what I am used to.”
To learn more about the Department of Agricultural Sciences at Northwest, click here.
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