When she began her time at Mizzou, Hanna Blackmore had not considered studying abroad, but in a moment of boredom waiting outside of an animal sciences class, she wandered up to Shanon Dickerson at a CAFNR Study Abroad table.
“She encouraged me to sign up but in the back of my mind I was like ‘that’s never going to happen,’” Blackmore said. “But I applied on a whim and a few days later I got the acceptance email.”
With Dickerson’s help, Blackmore got all her paperwork in order and was bound for Austria in the summer of 2023. There, she spent 6 weeks in classes to prepare her for a 4 week internship on a sheep and dairy goat farm in Kirchberg am Wagram, near Vienna. During the internship, she helped the farm family tend to their animals and preserve heirloom breed Austrian sheep and goats that became endangered after World War II.
“The history part of it was really interesting,” Blackmore said. “The classes involved German language, leadership and Austrian history, which all helped prepare me so I didn’t have culture shock when I got to the farm.”
During the class portion, Blackmore also got to hike through the mountains, try new foods and travel around Austria to immerse herself in the culture.
“This experience really taught me to check my preconceived notions,” Blackmore said. “When you go to a different country you think you know how things are going to be. I grew up in agriculture, with cattle, and you think you know everything about how agriculture works, but that’s such a lie. It’s so different in an international environment. You can’t let those preconceived notions prevent you from learning things that can help you in your future.”
Blackmore originally had plans to work in beef cattle nutrition post-grad, but discovered a passion for the dairy industry, with both goats and cattle, during her study abroad experience. Now, she is excited to not only carry her study abroad experience with her into a career, but also encourage other CAFNR students to pursue their own as a part of the International Education Committee.
The International Education Committee comprises faculty members and students who work to promote and support study abroad opportunities to maximize CAFNR students international learning and experience opportunities.
“I didn’t realize when I signed up that this would literally change my life, not just in my career but as a person,” Blackmore said. “It’s a perfect way to learn about yourself and see things you never thought you’d get to see in your life, and I want other students to realize that. Don’t overthink it; just do it. I came back a different person.”