Students spend spring break in Nicaragua

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LSU College of Agriculture students spent spring break, March 24-30, learning about agriculture in Nicaragua, including a stop at the Laguna de Apoyo water crater. Faculty members Kristin Stair and Mike Kaller (back left) accompanied students Chloe Christmas, Brooke Comeaux, David Baudoin, Preston Dumont, Adam O’Malley, and (front) Olivia Soler, Caitlin Holder, Hayley Jackson, Ashlyn Sak. John Russin (front right), director of LSU AgCenter Global Network, spent time with the students during their visit.Photo provided by Dr. Kristin Stair

Nine LSU College of Agriculture students traveled to Nicaragua during spring break for what most of the students described as a life changing experience.
 
The trip, organized by Go Abroad Nicaragua, was aimed at freshmen in the college from any major to give them an initial week-long international experience with the expectation that they would take part in another international experience later in college. Two graduate students studying agricultural and extension education also participated in the trip.
 
The students visited a coffee plantation, a cattle farm, a cigar company, a volcano, and took excursions to a water crater and Lake Nicaragua.
 
“Every aspect of this trip had a learning component,” said Olivia Soler, a graduate student.  “Just being immersed in something outside of your comfort zone is beneficial to everyone.”
 
Brooke Comeaux, a freshman double majoring in agricultural and extension education and animal sciences said all of the excursions offered something interesting.
 
“Go Abroad Nicaragua showed me and taught me things that I will use for a lifetime,” she said.
 
Comeaux, who is from Crowley, a big rice producing area of Louisiana, also said she was interested in seeing how rice is produced in Nicaragua and some of the similarities and differences.
 
Chloe Christmas, also a freshman, said she was inspired by the natural resources of the country. The agricultural business major returned to campus and added natural resource ecology and management as a second major.
 Coffee sampling Nicaragua
Christmas looked at future internship possibilities with in Nicaragua.
 
“I now know what the companies we visited are looking for, so I have a leg up on other applicants,” she said.
 
Preston Dumont, a sophomore studying plant and soil systems, said he also networked while there and was looking for opportunities to return for research or an internship.
 
“Being a big plant guy, it was incredible to learn about coffee seed germination and plant breeding,” he said.
 
A highlight of the trip for most of the students was a service project on their final day in Nicaragua. The students were each given $20 to spend in the local market and buy food and supplies for families in the San Blas rural community.
 
“It was beyond one of the most fulfilling experiences in my life. I can’t express what it felt like to help these people,” Dumont said.
 
“It was so cool to see the looks on the faces of the people when we brought them the baskets,” Christmas said.  

Associate professors Dr. Kristin Stair, Department of Agricultural and Extension Education and Evaluation, and Dr. Mike Kaller, Department of Renewable Natural Resources, accompanied the students in Nicaragua.