Douthats create international internship 

A year spent in Thailand and another in South Korea changed John and Annette Douthat’s world view. The Douthats lived abroad early in their careers while John worked for the Ralston Purina Company. Annette said the experience was eye-opening. Now they are helping college students gain international exposure.
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John and Annette Douthat at their home with Dinah Schuster, senior director of development with the LSU College of Agriculture. The Douthats have created an endowed international internship for students in the College of Agriculture. Photo Credit: Tobie Blanchard

 
The Douthats have established an endowed international internship. The Annette and John Douthat International Agriculture Internship is open to students in the LSU College of Agriculture with preference given to those who have never traveled out of the country.
 
“International travel changes your perception of everything,” Annette said. “It improves human relations and teaches you about different cultures, religion and food.”
 
Annette, an alumna of the College of Agriculture, met John, a graduate of the University of Florida, while she was traveling as a Danforth Fellow, which was part of a leadership program with Ralston Purina.
 
The couple eventually settled in Baton Rouge with aspirations to open their own company. Annette had worked in a fabric shop and taught sewing lessons, so they opened a fabric store. Their store eventually grew into AllBrands, a thriving retail and online business specializing in sewing machines and sewing related items, which is celebrating its 40th year in business.
 
John earned his degree in agricultural business and thought he was destined to be a veterinarian.
 
“I had a pig that cut her stomach, so I got a needle and thread and stitched her up. I thought this meant I would be a vet, but it turns out I ended up in sewing,” he said.
 
John compared traveling internationally with sewing, saying the earlier you are exposed to it, the better.
 
“If you don’t learn to sew early in life, you’ll probably never sew. It’s the same with international experience. Successful exposure early on will give you that global view without it being so intimidating,” he said.
 
“Remember, it’s their country, not yours,” John said, which is advice he received before moving to Thailand and wants to pass it on to others.
 
The Douthats’ international experiences continue. Their business often takes them overseas. Of their four children, one lives in Austria. Also, they host international college students in their home near LSU’s campus.
 
“We have a real interest in international students,” Annette said. “We learn so much from them.”
 
The couple are supporters of 4-H and FFA, with 4-H playing a big part in Annette’s childhood and FFA in John’s.
 
They are also involved in the Sewing Machine Project, which collects and donates sewing machines nationally and internationally.
 
This international internship is just another way they are giving back.
 
“I hope the students that benefit from this internship get to experience a new culture while also gaining some sort of industry experience,” Annette said.