It takes a lot of courage to leave the daily routine for an internship in a new place, but it takes an extra dose of bravery to travel across time zones to spend an entire summer working somewhere with a family you have never met, especially if that involves working in a different language.
Twelve Farm Management students broadened their horizons this past summer, stepping out of their comfort zones and into the unknown to complete their Agricultural Internship (stage). Three traveled to Europe (the Netherlands and Switzerland), and nine traveled to Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
Lynnette Klein Boonschate - Melkveebedrijf Kloosterboer
For her Agricultural Internship placement, Lynnette Klein Boonschate, from a custom work operation in Winchester, ON, selected Melkveebedrijf Kloosterboer, a dairy farm owned by the Kloosterboer family in Almen, Netherlands. Despite communicating in English by email in advance, Lynnette was surprised to discover that the owners spoke very little English, making communication one of the biggest challenges of her stage. From a Dutch background, Lynnette had to work to expand her Dutch vocabulary quickly in the first few weeks.
“This experience has been a rewarding one for sure because I have gotten to learn so much about farming in another country and about other possible ways of doing things on a farm. I have gotten to grow and learn as a student and as an employee and have also gotten to improve my Dutch immensely. Even though it isn’t school-related, it has made this experience so much more rewarding, as it is something I will always need with my family,” explained Lynnette.
While improving her language skills might not have been one of Lynnette’s original learning objectives, she was also able to learn several new skills working at the dairy, which milks about 125 Holsteins with 2 DeLaval robots. “In Holland stages are very common and so my host producer, Maarten, is a very good teacher because he's used to having students on his farm in order to learn, and not just work,” wrote Lynnette.
The owners took the time to explain why and how they choose bulls, how to analyze the data from the milking robots, instead of merely assigning Lynnette physical work. They also explained the different environmental regulations they must respect in the Netherlands with respect to emissions and manure spreading among others. Lynnette was also able to develop technical skills like backing up wagons, mixing feed and how to do fieldwork using different types of machinery.
While sometimes Lynnette felt she could have been assigned more tasks to help the owners, she also felt “proud to be introduced to people coming onto the farm as a stage student from Canada because they always think that is really cool and ask all kinds of questions about my schooling. And I have also gotten to learn way more than I would have as a normal employee.”