For a group of about 15 area students, this summer vacation will be one to always remember.
From visiting Canada to experiencing a different farming lifestyle, the group from the Guadalupe 4-H Exchange Program trekked up to Roseau County, Minnesota where they spent a week with another 4-H group.
“It’s an interstate exchange program so the purpose is to build relationships with others from across the United States to see how they live and the culture,” Exchange Program leader Tammy Bargfrede said. “It’s definitely educational, but it’s all fun as well.”
In previous years, the group has gone to Pennsylvania and Michigan for the program, but this time around they opted for Roseau County. Last summer, the group from Minnesota stayed in the homes of the Guadalupe County students, but this time it was the other way around.
While up north, the Guadalupe County 4H’ers had the opportunity to tag along with the Minnesotan group and explore what the northern region had to offer.
“We went to a lumberjack breakfast that actually was at an old lumberjack camp. We went to Bemidji where the Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues are,” Bargfrede said. “We also went to the headwaters of the Mississippi, which were absolutely gorgeous. It’s amazing to see the Mississippi when it’s only about 15 feet wide. When it starts out it’s just a trickle of a creek.”
The students also visited the Polaris Experience Center and even crossed over the Canadian border.
“They took us to Canada twice. The first time we actually went to the Canadian Mint and that was pretty cool to say I’ve actually been to Canada as well,” said Tayler Mills, a Guadalupe County 4-H member and Marion High School graduate. “I was able to bring back some Canadian money. They took us to the Northwest Angle, which we had to cross through Canada to get there where we were.”
While at the Northwest Angle, the students spent the day on the water in boats and some even took a dip to swim, Mills said.
Aside from taking a few adventures, the Guadalupe County students also got to see how different the farming lifestyle is up north.
“It was very fun and interesting to see how people live in Minnesota. I exchanged last year with Pennsylvania and they were very horse-based,” said Keaghan Holt, a Guadalupe County 4-H member and Seguin High School graduate. “So going up to Minnesota where they were very agriculturally farmer-based was really cool to learn. They each have thousands of acres.”
Mills added that it was very different from Texas.
“It was really cool to see the different types of landscapes they have out there and crops they farm,” he said. “I’ve grown up on a farm so the crops were really interesting to me. Their corn is like knee-high right now and ours is getting ready to be harvested.”
The use of technology on one of the farms they visited was something that interested many of the students.
“They milk 250 cows and everything was done by robotics. It was an older couple probably in their 60s and they ran 250 cows all day,” Mills said. “It was all done by robots and I thought that was just the coolest thing ever. I was really glad I got to see that.”
Aside from serving as an educational experience, Bargfrede added that the students take away life long memories and friendships.
“In the past, we’ve had students grow up and have exchange friends come to their weddings. I mean they have lifelong memories,” she said.
For those interested in becoming a part of the Exchange Program, Holt said they should go for it.
“I didn’t take the opportunity soon enough and I completely regret it because there’s so many cool friendships you can make out of these exchanges,” she said. “Not everyone gets to say they’ve gone to Canada or they’ve done a state-to-state exchange. It’s a cool way to learn and grow yourself as a person.”
To help them get to Roseau County, the group earlier this year hosted the Get Your Goat fundraiser where they took live goats to local businesses for a $20 donation. Once the organization paid its dues, the goat was sent to another person in town.