Hawkeye Community College's Global Agriculture Learning Center is dedicated to educating and bringing agriculturists together from around the world. The second Study Abroad experience was a trip to Denmark, one of Europe's smallest countries. Hawkeye's first Study Abroad trip for Agriculture was Brazil.
A group of individuals, including Hawkeye instructors, students, agriculture educators, and a local farmer visited Denmark in June for a week of hands-on learning. Denmark was selected because the Danes are very futuristic in their thinking when it comes to farming. In addition, they offer high educational standards and excellent student facilities to prepare students to work successfully in the future global environment.
Taylor Zobel, Iowa State Agricultural Education Student (former HCC Student), Traer, was one of the participants.
Taylor stated, "The trip we took to Denmark was a once in a lifetime experience for me. We explored and learned a lot about Danish agriculture, food and culture. Seeing these culture differences first hand is a great eye opening experience, along with comparing the differences and similarities in Danish agriculture compared to the United States. As well as all of the knowledge I gained on this trip, I also created lifelong memories."
On the first day, the Hawkeye group arrived by plane in the Danish capital of Copenhagen. They toured Green Academy in Aarhus, a contemporary agriculture college. They continued to tour farms and slaughter facilities and saw many presentations to give them a first-hand experience of Danish agriculture. They also learned a lot of interesting facts about the Danish culture in general.
The average farm in Denmark is approximately 150 acres. The main crops in Denmark are wheat and barley. They also harvest corn, but most of this commodity is sent to Germany. As for livestock, Danish farmers produce 22 million slaughter hogs per year, more per capita than any other country. They produce large quantities of dairy products. Milk production is limited, but that will change in the next year due to new regulations. They also produce beef and poultry in more limited amounts. Commodities are produced for the Danish market and for export.
In Denmark, as is similar to the United States, the number of farms has decreased and the role of the farmer is changing from skilled craftsman to manager. Farmers in Denmark must have a degree with a mix of study and practical training on private farms, which is very different from the requirements for farming in the United States. Students have 6 and 9 month internships in farming.
Hawkeye instructor, Brad Kinsinger, stated there is a significant difference in the sharing of information. Farming is largely a cooperative effort in Denmark, with a lot of sharing of information, including financial records to see how profits can be maximized. Farmer-owned cooperatives control main processing and marketing industries for food products. Another interesting fact about Denmark farms is that for two days per year all the farms are open to the public for tours so that everyone can learn about agriculture.
English is spoken and understood by the majority of the population, so there was not a language barrier. Danes traditionally have a good sense of humor. They are very punctual - not early, nor late. In Danish culture, it is considered rude to arrive at a host's home early, as that is the time they spend preparing for their guests. It is equally rude to arrive late. Three things are very important to them, their homes, food, and travel.
The weather is quite similar to Iowa weather, with July and August being their warmest months. There are relatively few bugs and no screens in the windows. Danes take on a "work hard-work-less" position, and a typical work week is only 37 hours, unlike American's routine 40-hour work week.
The food was quite different and sandwiches are generally served open-faced. Other than the border with Germany, Denmark is surrounded by several bodies of water, including the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Fish and seafood are also eaten routinely. The Danish rolls were also a huge hit with the Hawkeye group.
The Danes feel that the best part of traveling is the sense of coming home. The Hawkeye group said they thoroughly enjoyed the Denmark experience and would have stayed another month, if given the option.
Hawkeye Community College is dedicated to creating professionals in agriculture with a global sense through applied learning for greater understanding and production practices of food, fiber, and fuel for our growing world. The Global Agriculture Learning Center is open to students, agriculture professionals, industry, and educators around the globe! For more information on Hawkeye's ag programs, call 319-296-4000 or visit the college's website at www.hawkeyecollege.edu.