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Hennings, Beck to participate in FFA trip to Kosovo
September 6, 2018

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Karson Hennings of Dysart and his FFA Instructor, Louis Beck, will join other Iowa FFA members in a trip to Kosovo in southeast Europe September 22-30 to bring agriculture education to an area previously affected by war and looking to bring similar programs to their country.

"Hawkeye Community College has an international program and for a couple of years have developed a relationship with schools in Kosovo," Beck said. "Brad Kinsinger with Hawkeye has been over there twice now. What they are really interested in doing is developing an exchange program to get their young people enthused about agriculture and programs similar to 4-H and FFA like we have here."

According to Beck, Hawkeye selected five FFA advisors and five students to go visit the country, taking applications from across the region. Beck and Hennings will visit Kosovo high schools in the capital city of Pristina to talk about agriculture program, youth programs and relate their own experiences. In April, Kosovo will then send students and adults over to Iowa for a leadership conference.

"We had to put together a video explaining why we wanted to go to Kosovo," Beck said. "We liked the idea of an opportunity to go over because because Karson did a paper for the World Food Prize on Kosovo and is very interested. I've been on a trip to Brazil through this program and had been hearing about Kosovo and how interesting of a country it is. They really want a relationship with the U.S. to help get some positive things going over there."

Hennings is a senior at Union, the President of the Dysart-La Porte FFA Chapter and a District Officer for the NE Iowa FFA Association.

"I wrote a paper for the Iowa Food Prize about how organizations around the world are helping Kosovo develop it's agriculture after the wars that took place over the years," Henning said. "There's an organization out there, for example, called Cows for Kosovo that donates cattle to help the country get started with raising cattle."

A native of Dysart, Hennings was nervous about the prospect of leaving the country on this trip initially.

"To be honest, I was a little nervous at first I've never been out of the country," Hennings said. "I got to think about it more and it will be a really good opportunity to go over and promote agriculture education and FFA."

Before leaving on the weeklong trip, Hennings must write a paper detailing what he knows about Kosovo before and then compare it to what he'll learn by the end of the trip. During his previous research, Hennings was fascinated by the culture and climate of Kosovo.

"Personally, I want to take away leadership skills from this trip by promoting agriculture and also go to a foreign country and learn about their ag industry," Hennings said. "I'll be required to give a presentation about my trip and journal my experiences everyday during the trip."

Beck hopes to see this exchange program blossom into a multi-year program in the future despite expenses associated with traveling. Both the FFA advisor and his student has reached out to businesses and programs for funds to help cover the cost of the trip.

"I'm looking forward to working with young people over there and getting them enthused about agriculture," Beck said. "In the 1990s during the Balkan Wars, they lost everything. Livestock was killed and many people had to start all over again. They don't have a tradition or generations of agriculture, so I want to get that jump started for them again."

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