WSU Extension hosts first visit by global farming scholars

By Seth Truscott, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences

nuffield-trust-logoCOLFAX, Wash. – Farmers from half a world away got an inside look at Washington agriculture and research this summer, with help from Washington State University Extension.

Whitman County Extension Educator Steve Van Vleet hosted farmer-scholars from Ireland, Australia and New Zealand in the Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust’s first visit to WSU.

Extension links growers, research

The Nuffield trust ( sponsors farmers on a six-week global tour, broadening their knowledge and advancing the industry. Starting in Canberra, Australia, on June 1, Nuffield scholars visited farms in Singapore, the Philippines, China and Canada before touring Washington state in late June and early July.

WSU hosted this group of Nuffield farming scholars at locations statewide. Here, they visit Broetje Orchards at Prescott, Wash.

“Extension is the direct link between growers and the university,” said Van Vleet, who introduced the Nuffield scholars to Whitman County wheat and barley growers and staff from the Washington State Beef Commission.

Scholars also met with Rich Koenig, associate dean of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences and director of WSU Extension (
), and Jim Moyer, associate dean of research and director of the CAHNRS Agricultural Research Center, who highlighted WSU programs and how they relate to agriculture in the Pacific Northwest.

Global interaction

Leaving Pullman, scholars visited WSU’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center and the Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center in Prosser, Wash., and Broetje Orchards in Prescott, Wash., learning about horticulture, viticulture, tree fruit production, automated agriculture and WSU’s AgWeatherNet system.

“In agriculture, no matter what sector you’re in, the same issues crop up,” said Brian Rushe, a dairy farmer in County Kildare, Ireland.

“In the end, we’re all farmers,” said Satwant Singh, a New Zealand dairy farmer. “We’re all facing the same challenges. That’s something I’ve found from traveling: how much we have in common. No matter the industry, we’ve all got to work with people and feed the world.”

Opportunity, collaboration

The journey brought home the incredible scope of the industry for Singh.

“There are so many opportunities in agriculture,” particularly for young people, she said. “We have met so many people, from small farms to large, really successful ones to family businesses. You can make it what you want.”

Host farmers were “extremely happy” with the Nuffield visit, said Van Vleet.

“They requested that we bring them back next time,” he said.

Interaction between international farmers, Washington producers and university research underscores CAHNRS’ connection to state agriculture.

“These opportunities are critical to telling the WSU story and to opening the doors for increased collaboration,” said Moyer. “Not only between faculty and scholars from other countries, but as an opportunity to engage stakeholders as well.”

Learn more about research at WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at