Tuesday, April 1, 2014

UW-River Falls reaches worldwide

The UW-River Falls has been engaged internationally for decades, but, in recent years, there has been a new level of excitement and growth.

Dale Gallenberg, dean of the UW-River Falls College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, believes the university’s international connections provide many new, unique opportunities to faculty and students.

Gallenberg says, “Like so many things domestically, the growth of our international work is built around relationships. By investing time and energy, we have been able to accomplish a lot through face-to-face discussions and use of technology.”

Global connections are part of the university’s 5-year plan, and Carolyn Brady, the school’s international partnerships coordinator, is working to implement the global part of the plan.

By participating in Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s (DATCP) international activities, Brady has traveled to China, Brazil, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia to build these relationships.

UW-River Falls is second only to the UW-Madison in the number of students who study abroad.

For 30 years, UW-River Falls has had an active partnership with Zhejiang International Studies University in Hangzhou, China, encouraging an exchange of faculty and students.

A partnership with the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program also brings many visiting students to UW-River Falls.

“The Brazil program allows students to come here to enrich our campus and share with us their international perspective,” says Brady. “Exchanges are a win-win. Wisconsin’s most valuable ambassadors are our visiting students and faculty to other countries.”

Brady first reached out to the DATCP in 2011 to learn more about additional opportunities at World Dairy Expo. The International Trade Team’s Lisa Stout provided contacts at the show and with visitors from other countries. The partnership between UW-River Falls and DATCP has grown from that first phone call.

“UW-River Falls enrolls more dairy science students than any other university in Wisconsin and is recognized nationwide for its top-notch department,” said Brady. “The World Dairy Expo was a natural fit for us to share with international visitors what our campus could offer to students and companies.”

UW-River Falls and DATCP have traveled together to China, Mexico and Brazil to promote Wisconsin’s dairy industry. UW-River Falls has signed Memorandums of Understanding with China Agriculture University and provided training. Recently, Brady traveled to Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia with DATCP’s economic development consultant Jennifer Lu on a fact-finding mission.

“When traveling with DATCP, we are able to meet with government representatives and tour agricultural businesses to better understand how UW-River Falls can become engaged,” adds Brady. “In Inner Mongolia of China, I was able to explain to companies that UW-River Falls can assist with technical training and offer agricultural expertise.”

UW-River Falls faculty have taught at China Agricultural University. Sylvia Kehoe, an associate professor of dairy science at UW-River Falls, has traveled to China twice to share her perspectives and knowledge. She taught a 2-week course in dairy nutrition and management.

“Many of the Chinese students completed a full day of classes and research, and then came to participate in a 3-hour course with me in the evening,” explains Kehoe. “I had a different teaching style from what they were used to, asking questions and encouraging participation. The students seemed to enjoy it and were very interested in the content.”

“China has the purchased equipment, genetics and feed, but what they need is the technical knowledge on how to use the equipment, the genetics and feed, as well as manage the farm,” adds Kehoe. “We continue to develop the next steps for our partnership with the China Agricultural University, including hosting faculty and students this fall at UW-River Falls and the World Dairy Expo.”

“Our goal is to grow Wisconsin’s agricultural presence globally. Through our work abroad, we are able to help campuses connect to international opportunities and gain knowledge and understanding of global agricultural issues,” says Jennifer Lu. “By sharing our network and making initial contacts, we hope more campuses will take advantage of these opportunities and boost the success of Wisconsin’s agricultural industry.”For more information, contact 800-462-5237 or international@wisconsin.gov.

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