CALS Leadership Institute Explores International Agriculture

Živjeli (ji vo li)! Cheers!

In late July, 17 students from Cohort 14 of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) Leadership Institute (LI) started their 14-day journey around Croatia accompanied by Assistant Professor Natalie Coers and Director of Student Development and Recruitment Charlotte Emerson. This international experience gives students the opportunity to travel and experience a different culture through a leadership lens.

CALS Cohort 14 visiting a local dairy farm in Croatia.

The Leadership Institute is a 3-semester long program in which students engage in leadership modules and an international travel experience and are paired with a mentor. This leadership experience prepares students for positions in business, communications, science, natural resources and pre-professional studies.

Cohort members started their journey in Zagreb. They met with local farmers, toured the University of Zagreb, and visited several Croatian agricultural operations. A tour that stood out to Cohort members was visiting two family-owned dairy farms. Emma Putnam, an Agricultural Education and Communication (AEC) sophomore, recalls her experience at these operations.

“Seeing the dairies in a different country really allowed me to grasp the similarities and differences between American and Croatian industries. Even the two that we saw in Croatia were very different. One was a larger-scale operation and one that represented the smaller, more modest side of the industry. It was such an eye-opening day that I will never forget.” Putnam said.

CALS LI Cohort 14 visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia.

Cohort 14 members then traveled to the Pula area, stopping at a national park along the way. At the park, they walked alongside the Plitvice Lakes. Taylor Casine, a CALS LI Cohort 14 member and VP Promise recipient, found a connection while walking along the waterfalls.

“While admiring the beauty of the Croatian landscape, I found myself appreciating this incredible culture that protects its traditions, heritage, and natural resources,” Casine said.

Croatia has a rich history in the wine industry. A particular winery the students visited was the Misal Winery in Istria. Casine recalls the family atmosphere that she experienced when visiting their facility for a wine tasting.

“Rooted in tradition, this small yet successful business is run by four family members who assume leadership roles that strategically work to their strengths. From my perspective, each role was viewed as equally important to the winery’s success, creating a motivating and rewarding work environment for the family team.” Casine said.

CALS LI aims to prepare students to enter the workforce or a professional school with the skills needed to be successful in a global society by providing opportunities for personal leadership development, creating an understanding of leadership in an organizational and global context, and determining the importance of the agricultural and life sciences in a global society. Cohort 15 applications are open now. If you are looking, apply to the CALS Leadership Institute visit:


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Posted: October 5, 2023

Category: Agriculture, UF/IFAS Teaching
Tags: CALS, Leadership, Leadership Institute, Study Abroad, VP Promise

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