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Recap: #IrelandFFAExperience

Thanks to the generosity of the National FFA Organization and their sponsors, I was able to travel to Ireland through the Stars and Proficiency Program. However, it was due to the support of my FFA advisor, home and collegiate community, my Purdue advisors, and my family for allowing me to become a National Star finalist to qualify for this trip.

The trip started with a night in New York City for orientation. I decided to fly in a day earlier and see some of the sights. I walked around downtown, took a boat tour, enjoyed some street food and some great pizza for dinner. The boat tour included a visit to the Statue of Liberty. However, what I was most excited to do in New York City was visit the last two National Smithsonian Museums. Last summer while I was interning in DC,  I visited all of the Smithsonian museums in the DC and surrounding area. This January I also went back to see the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture. In NYC I visited the American Indian Museum Heye Center and the Cooper Hewitt Museum, both of which were wonderful. The next day I was joined by my advisor and another FFA member and we went to visit the 9/11 Memorial and One World Trade Center.

The orientation allowed everyone to get to know each other before we embarked on our trek through Ireland. Once our overnight flight landed in Dublin, we hit the ground running by touring the National Stud Farm and Japanese Gardens, a stop at the Rock of Cashel, and a Sheep Farm. We ended the night in Carrigaline and got some much needed rest. The next day we traveled to a dairy farm, beef farm, and the Blarney Castle. That night we dined with Macra na Feirne, an Irish rural youth organization at the home of the individual's beef farm we had visited. Once back in Carrigaline, we toured the downtown night life. (Carrigaline – Blarney – Crosshaven – Carrigaline)
The biggest takeaway from the first two days was how dependent the farmers are on the grasslands in Ireland. In the US, much of agriculture (including animal agriculture) is based on row crops. However, in Ireland it is on very precise use of their grasslands. Not only is their grass very productive, but they must utilize it to the maximum efficiency due to the limited amount of land. We were told land only goes up for sale once every 400 years.

The third day we started out by going on a boat ride where we saw seals and visited a mussel farm. We then had a nice shore side lunch, which included muscles! One of the most fascinating things we learned during this tour was that they use seat-belt material for the muscles to attach and grow on. This was just outside of Kenmare. We then visited Macroom Buffalo, the only water buffalo milk farm in Ireland.  This was my absolute favorite stop of the trip! The owner was inventive and very humble. He was also very knowledgable and a life-long learner.

The next day was spent with a drive through the Ring of Kerry. This was filled with wonderful scenery and a look into the heritage of Ireland. During this trip we stopped at a sheep farm on the side of the mountain. Watching the sheep dogs work at both sheep farms was miraculous. If my dog came when called I would be thrilled, but these dogs go into the mountains and bring back the sheep to the farm. We then retired to enjoy a second night of visiting downtown Killarney. There I went to the best candy store! The man had a moveable bookcase that opened up to a staircase decorated like Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.

We then visited the Cliffs of Moher and had a picnic lunch in Tuam just north of Galway. We then visited a Potato Farm before heading back to Dublin. The last day of touring included a tour of a Christmas Farm, a drive to Naas for a visit to Kerry Taste and Nutrition, and a night of Irish music and dance at the Merry Ploughboys Pub. We then started a very long day of traveling home. After 28 hours of travel my FFA advisor and I arrived safely back in Nebraska, with a trip full of wonderful memories in tow.

NYC:

Cooper Hewitt








Myself, a fellow FFA member and my advisor in front of the 9/11 memorial.



 IRELAND:










"The Murder Hole" in the Blarney Castle











Group Photo at Macroom Buffalo: photo courtesy of Mrs. Glascock


















My small group from the trip. We were divided into six small groups during the trip, but traveled and did nearly everything collectively. 












Group Photo at Kerry: photo courtesy of Mrs. Glascock

Group Photo at the Potato Farm: photo courtesy of Mrs. Glascock


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