Over 100 of our agricultural engineering students have had their eyes opened to exciting opportunities abroad, thanks to our links with one of the USA’s flagship universities.

John Beardmore, Programme Co-ordinator for the Ohio State University’s International Agricultural and Horticultural Internship Programme, outlined the once-in-a-lifetime experiences on offer during a presentation on campus.

Aimed at ambitious, career focussed students, the programme offers placements for up to 12 months with progressive US companies in areas including Agriculture, Horticulture and Landscaping, Floristry, Sports Turf, Enology, Equine, Food Processing and Applied Research.

Former Reaseheath internees have described their experiences as ‘life-changing’ and a superb addition to their CVs.

Our engineering students heard that they can carry out an 8 – 12 month placement on an arable farm, or follow the wheat harvest through the grain belt from North Texas to the Canadian border as a member of a professional custom harvesting team.

Both options involve large-scale cultivating, planting and harvesting using some of the most technologically advanced machinery in the world.

Those lucky enough to secure placements enjoy a guaranteed wage, board and lodging and assistance with travel plans, visas and insurance. Main benefits of the scheme are the opportunity to build confidence and maturity, make international friendships and enjoy cross-cultural experiences.

Participants must be aged 19 – 29 with some relevant experience and are typically in the middle year of a Level 3 Diploma or have completed their course.

Agricultural Engineering Instructor Graeme Smith, who organised the presentation for all our full time Level 2 and Level 3 Diploma students, was an Ohio State intern himself and travelled through Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South and North Dakota, and Minnesota with a custom harvesting team.

After gaining valuable experience ensuring the professional and efficient gathering of wheat, corn (maize) and soya beans, Graeme completed further placements on a vegetable plantation in Florida and on a large arable farm in North Dakota.

He said: “It was a life changing experience for me. I enjoyed it so much that I chose to extend my 12 month visa by an extra 6 months, which I could do at the time.

“It was the first time I had seen farming businesses operating on such a grand scale and I had so many unforgettable experiences. There’s no doubt that it shaped my career.

“I learned so much – how to work and communicate within a team, how to plan ahead and particularly about having a good work ethic. You have to work really hard but you get rewarded for your effort.”

Many of our students were keen to talk to four of the owners of host businesses who also took part in the presentation. These were Jim Diebert (J K D Harvesting), Josh Beckley (Beckley Harvesting) and Rick and JJ Farris (Farris Bros Harvesting).

The businessmen and John Beardmore had met some of our staff and students the previous day at LAMMA, the UK’s leading agricultural machinery, equipment and technology show at the NEC, Birmingham.

John is returning to Reaseheath this week to present the internship programme to our agriculture students.