Students interested in study abroad have numerous opportunities to gain international experience through a variety of MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) programs. CAFNR hosts experiences throughout the year and across the globe.
One of the more unique opportunities is a summer program in Austria, which allows students to tailor an internship experience to their interest area. The first half of the program, which is offered through Salzburg College, prepares students for the international working environment they will eventually experience during their internship.
This year’s program will run from May through August – and applications are due on March 1.
“All of our programs allow students to truly immerse themselves in a new culture and country,” said Shanon Dickerson, program director of study abroad in the CAFNR Office of Academic Programs. “I’m so thankful for our partnerships across the globe, especially our collaboration with Salzburg College. Our Austria program is very unique and I’m excited to see it grow.”
CAFNR had four students participate in the Austria study abroad program last year – Grayson Alexander, Matt Donzelli, Armana Gusewelle and Ellen Phillips. Each student experienced Austrian culture in a different way.
The program served as the second study abroad experience for Phillips, a senior agriculture major. Along with her time at Salzburg College, Phillips spent five weeks living and serving as a farmhand on a diversified livestock farm in a rural town in the province of Lower Austria. She helped with the dairy cattle, hogs, goats, turkeys, chickens, geese and ostriches spread throughout the farm.
“I would let out, feed and water all of the animals every morning and would feed, water and lock up the animals at night,” Phillips said. “During the day I was also in charge of the geese. There were 90 geese in the free-range flock and my job was to ensure they didn’t wander too far, tear up the garden or get in with the ostriches. I also helped with the garden, fruit trees and maintenance.”
Phillips added that she helped with many household chores, too. She participated in a local Renaissance festival as well.
“We made ostrich egg chocolate chip cookies beforehand that we sold at the festival, and we also sold scrambled ostrich eggs that we prepared on site,” Phillips said. “It was definitely one of the more interesting aspects of my internship.”
Donzelli, a senior environmental sciences major, also spent his internship in a rural area, specifically in a small farm town called St. Christophen. Donzelli worked on an organic beekeeping farm.
“Monday through Friday, the head beekeeper and I would do different work, tending to the bees and his other livestock,” Donzelli said. “I would take care of his bee colonies, extract honey, take care of his lamb and harvest fruit.
“Immersing myself in the culture was a great opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and, of course, educate myself. The internship portion really helped with this because I was able to do work and not just be a tourist. The trip was incredible, something I will never forget, and I wish I could go back and do it all again!”
Austria served as Alexander’s first study abroad experience. She spent her internship at a vineyard in the countryside of Vienna, Austria’s capital city.
“I worked on an organic, biodynamic family-operated vineyard, where I hand-pruned, sprayed and weeded the vineyard,” said Alexander, who graduated with her agriculture degree in December. “Being able to work so closely with an Austrian family helped me to get a sense of the real culture. I got to experience how relaxed the culture is and live life slowly, all while learning to speak a new language and helping prepare family meals.”
Gusewelle, a senior environmental sciences major, spent her internship on an organic farm as well.
“I know our students had really unique opportunities through this study abroad experience, which is what makes Austria such an intriguing option,” Dickerson sad. “I encourage any student who is interested in this program – or any of our other outstanding options – to reach out for more information.”