Millions of miles to a Golden Apple

CAFNR students circle the globe in search of learning, lead by the director of the Study Abroad Program

University of Missouri students love going abroad to study.  They come home to report that the experiences have changed their view of the world and other cultures.  They enthusiastically share their new ideas for worthwhile careers in places that were once only names on a paper map.

Helping College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources students to successfully and safely navigate the world of other languages and customs is Roy Robinson, director of the CAFNR Study Abroad program.  For his leadership in expanding the program and helping students apply their classroom work beyond the horizon, Robinson was recently presented the College’s Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching and advising.

Roy RobinsonRobinson was nominated by Michael Nolan, division director of Applied Social Sciences, Rob Terry, professor and department chair of agricultural education, Robert Sites, professor of entomology, Jan Dauve, associate professor of agricultural and applied economics, and Jere Giles, associate professor of rural sociology.

In the nomination letter, the five faculty members said that Robinson has had a profoundly positive impact on the academic and professional development of CAFNR students.

“Under Roy’s leadership, the Study Abroad program has grown in a variety of opportunities offered and in diversity of focus,” the nomination letter said.  “In addition, through Roy’s efforts, the number of students participating in these international experiences has increased in recent years.  Because of Roy’s expertise in developing, coordinating and supervising these activities, CAFNR students are able to gain invaluable experiences in world cultures, international relations and global agriculture that add value to their education and enrich their lives.”

The nominators said that Robinson develops and delivers courses and seminars that prepare students for their international adventures including clearly communicating expectation and opportunities, using varied approaches such as guest speakers and photo essays, being positive and enthusiastic, applying task oriented and business-like approaches to coordinating arrangements and preparing students for what they will encounter, and focusing his instruction on hands-on and experiential learning.

The CAFNR Study Abroad program is designed to broaden the education of participating students, challenge those students, and help them gain maturity and leadership skills.

Roy Robinson FamilyStudying abroad also strengthens foreign language skills, provides important intercultural understanding and allows students to expand their global outlook. Through study abroad, CAFNR students bolster and diversify their portfolio of skills that compliment their CAFNR education. Additionally, in this global economy employers are looking to hire students with international experience.

In 2009-2010, students had the opportunity to visit New Zealand, Costa Rica, South Africa, Thailand, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Ireland, Germany and Italy. While in these countries, students study subjects in the country ranging from animal science and humanities to parks and recreation.  CAFNR students can apply for a loan up to $3,500 to fund their trip abroad.

The CAFNR Golden Apple Award recognizes faculty in the College who excel and go above and beyond in teaching and advising.

To be eligible for the CAFNR Golden Apple award, faculty members must demonstrate clarity, variability and enthusiasm. They need to be accessible to students, helpful, personable and act as a mentor that students can turn to for advice and direction.

Nominees must be well-prepared for classes and encourage creative work, said Bryan Garton, CAFNR associate dean of academic programs. “They should provide a variety of learning opportunities and teach to clearly established objectives and expectations.”

Robinson grew up in Columbia.  He got a taste of study abroad early with a stay at the University of Paris.  He returned home to graduate with a BA in History from Mizzou, and then attended the Hanoi Foreign Language College. He later earned his graduate degree in International Relations from the University of California at San Diego.

He then moved to Washington, DC and spent weekends exploring the city by bike. Soon after, he joined the Peace Corps and was sent to Benin, West Africa to help develop the bee keeping and forestry industries there.  He is proficient at the French language and speaks passable Vietnamese and Spanish.  He has also traveled in Australia, Latin America and Europe.

From 1998 to 2001, he managed 47 programs worldwide for Michigan State University’s Study Abroad Program.  There, he acted as the program’s de facto computer expert, assisted with marketing and managed the academic orientation program.

From 2001 to 2002, Robinson was the director of the Brethren College Abroad Center in Cochin, India.  There, he was responsible for academics, student welfare, financial management and extra-curricular activities.

Immediately before coming to MU, he was the assistant director for off-campus study at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif.  In this capacity he advised students on study abroad opportunities and marketed the program.

In their free time in Columbia, Robinson and wife Alexis love to play with their two kids, Emma, seven, and Evan, four, as well as travel, sample new and exotic beers, and follow Mizzou sports.