Host family is Peter, Abby Scott of rural Pelican Rapids area

By Louis Hoglund

Visiting the dairy barn at the West Otter Tail County Fair in Fergus Falls, exchange program visitor from Germany Julia Colb, center, with hosts Abby and Peter Scott. In the background, the Johnson family’s dairy cows, from Lida Acres.
Visiting the dairy barn at the West Otter Tail County Fair in Fergus Falls, exchange program visitor from Germany Julia Colb, center, with hosts Abby and Peter Scott. In the background, the Johnson family’s dairy cows, from Lida Acres.

For a visitor from Germany, there are similarities between Minnesota and Germany. 

Demolition derbies, however, are one crashing, chaotic difference.  

Visiting Minnesota for three months through an exchange program, Julia Colb marveled at her first exposure to a Demolition Derby.  

“I’m not sure something like that would take place in Germany, because of safety,” said Colb, who is from Bavaria, which has an economic blend of forest industries, agriculture, and tourism.  

The demo derby was at the recent Clay County Fair in Barnesville, where she also experienced the peculiar art of American auctioneering.  

There are auctions in Germany, too, but the fast-talking gibberish delivered at the Clay livestock exhibition barns was a “show business” experience compared to her homeland.  

Colb was the guest of Peter and Abby Scott, rural Pelican Rapids. Peter manages the Farmers Elevator of Pelican Rapids; Abby is livestock production supervisor with Jennie-O. They hosted Colb on a tour of the Pelican elevator; and also spent time visiting a turkey growing site in Otter Tail County. 

Colb’s visit is through the International Farm Youth Exchange program, which dates to the post-World War II years, has a generally agricultural focus. But the overriding goal is  “cross-cultural education while promoting global awareness.”

In Colb’s case, she was not directly connected to agriculture, but studied urban and regional planning and will be working for a city government when she returns.  

Her Minnesota trip exposed her to rural farm life, but also marketing and tourism-recreation-hospitality—which will be a part of her role as she begins her career. 

She spent three weeks in Rice, Minn., staying with a dairy family. Her visit will continue in the Belgrade area, south of Alexandria. 

Among her observations during her stays in Minnesota: 

Julia Colb, left, with Pelican’s Abby Scott
Julia Colb, left, with Pelican’s Abby Scott

• Farms are larger here; so are the cars and pick-up trucks. 

• The rural landscape is more expansive here, with wider open spaces than in more densely settled Germany 

• John Deere green wasn’t unfamiliar, as there are many German farmers running Deere equipment. 

• Extensive use of Round-Up herbicide was surprising to her. “ It is forbidden in Germany….There is much less chemical farming,” she said. 

• She visited one of the rural barn event centers that have become more common here. Which is an idea she may introduce back home. 

The IFYE Exchange Program was founded after World War II as young Americans perceived the need for greater international understanding and cooperation. The first two-way exchange took place in 1948 with 17 youth from the United States traveling to seven countries in Western Europe. Six young Europeans came to the United States and lived with host families. That exchange led to the development of the International Farm Youth Exchange (IFYE). United States participants live and work with host families in another country, promoting “Peace Through Understanding .”Participants from other countries live with host families in the United States for an equal amount of time.  

Finland, India, Thailand, Norway, South Korea, Morocco, and Costa Rica are just a few of the countries that have participated in the program, noted Abby Scott, who is familiar with IFYE through a classmate at NDSU who coordinates the program in Minnesota.  

The vision statement for IFYE is  “A world in which all people are globally aware and co-exist with peaceful understanding in thriving diverse communities that affirm the value of all.”