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November-December 2019

Welcome Jessica!Jessica Boertje

Jessica Boertje joined the CALS Study Abroad office in September as a Study Abroad Adviser. Jessica received her bachelor’s degree at Central College in Pella, Iowa, where she studied abroad twice, in London, England and Leiden, the Netherlands. After graduation, Jessica received her master’s degree from Newcastle University in Newcastle, England, and then decided to move to an even smaller island- Ireland. She lived in Cork during this time and spent a lot of time traveling Ireland and volunteering in the community.

When Jessica's not working or traveling, she likes to be involved in the local community through volunteering, supporting sports and the arts, and trying different foods at local restaurants. 

Please stop by to meet Jessica in Room 0018 Curtiss Hall!

Denise BjellandSave the Date

Please join us in celebrating with Denise Bjelland as she retires on January 3, 2020, after 47 years with Iowa State University.  An informal reception with refreshments will be held on Wednesday, December 18, 2019, from 2-4 p.m., in Room 111 Curtiss Hall.  Denise was recently honored with a Career Achievement Award presented by CALS Dean Daniel Robison.  Since 2015, Denise has served as the Director of the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods as well as the Director of CALS Global Programs (2011).  During her 28 years with the CALS Global Programs Office, Denise was the key manager of various international programs including collaborative work with Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Russia, Ukraine, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, China, India and many others. Denise received a BS in Communications and MS in International Development from ISU.  Please contact Shelley Taylor with any questions or memories you would like to share.

International Travel Registration

Advance registration on the ISU Travel Website is required for all ISU employees who plan to travel outside of the continental United States.  Enrollment for Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) coverage (also required) will also be completed within this registration process.

Agriculture and Biodiversity Conference 2019

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences welcomed visitors from Yeungnam University (South Korea), Hokkaido University (Japan), Yunnan Agricultural University (China), and China Agricultural University (China) for the Agriculture and Biodiversity Conference at Iowa State University. A total of 18 professors and students visited Iowa State University from September 16-22, 2019, to participate in the conference. Read more . . .

CSRL FundISU Campaign

Ugandan ChildrenThe ISU Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods invites you to help nourish the minds and bodies of rural children in Uganda through its upcoming FundISU campaign. School gardens, initiated by the ISU-Uganda Program and maintained in partnership with the school communities, furnish produce for school lunches and help teach and nourish students in primary and secondary schools in the Kamuli District. With your support, nutritious lunches will be served to more children at more schools, helping to break the cycle of poverty and set the foundation for thriving communities.  

Beginning Wednesday, November 13, visit FundISU, where you can triple the impact of your donation - the first $10,000 will be matched 2 to 1!  The campaign will end on Friday, January 3.

New Exchange Program with Belgium

A Memorandum of Agreement was signed on October 11, 2019, allowing for the exchange of undergraduate and graduate students between CALS and the faculty of Bioscience Engineering at KU Leuven in Belgium. The MOA was signed by Dean Daniel Robison and Dean Jos Van Orshoven. KU Leuven is ranked among the most innovative universities in Europe and is the international headquarters of the International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences. There is a student chapter of IAAS at ISU. Based on academic calendars, the first KU Leuven students could arrive at ISU in Fall 2020 and the first CALS students could arrive in Belgium in Spring 2021. The CALS Study Abroad office now has 12 exchange programs with international universities for CALS students to study abroad for a semester paying their normal ISU tuition and fees.

CALS Study Abroad Fair 2019

On Thursday, October 3, the CALS Study Abroad Office held their annual Study Abroad Fair informing students on current and future study abroad opportunities. Exclusively for students of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the fair shed light on destinations and travel options for studying abroad.

Students attended the fair at the Farm Bureau Pavilion to learn about the 16 upcoming spring and summer 2020 study abroad trips, as well as other options available for studying abroad.

Cals Majors Graph

Traveling the Globe . . .Fall Study Abroad Programs

Natural History of Antarctica
Dr. Julie Blanchong and Dr. Steve Dinsmore (NREM), along with 8 participants, will travel to Antarctica in January, 2020. The group will spend 12 days on a ship exploring the Weddell Sea, Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands. Throughout the duration of the trip, while on the ship and during daily excursions to the continent, expedition leaders and lecture staff will guide students in viewing wildlife including whales, a huge variety of seabirds, penguins, and seals. Students will explore the icebergs, mountains and waterways of Antarctica's geography.

Soils, Crops and Water of Costa Rica
This fall, Dr. Lee Burras and Nicolas Timbas (Agronomy) will be taking 16 students to Costa Rica to observe land, water and cropping systems and conduct a field study of the soils, crops and water uses in Costa Rica. The main activity will be interactive visits to farms (pineapple, coffee, avocado, vegetable, dairy) that will include the examination and discussion of soils, soil data, crops, cropping methods, water use and marketing strategies.

Sustainable Global Resource systems in Uganda and the Netherlands
Led by program directors Dr. Emily Zimmerman and Dr. Catharine Swoboda (GLOBE), this study abroad program will focus on exploring and comparing sustainable resource systems in Uganda and the Netherlands, with a specific emphasis on understanding natural resources, agricultural, and food systems in each country. Sixteen students in the Global Resources Systems major will have the opportunity to experience livelihoods in rural Uganda and participate in activities associated with the Iowa State University's Uganda Program (ISU-UP) and the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL). In addition, students will travel to the Netherlands where they will have the opportunity to experience and learn about the natural resources of one of Europe’s smallest nations, visit agricultural and food facilities, and participate in cultural tours and activities.

CALS Study Abroad Program Director Q &ADr. Ebby Luvaga

Dr. Ebby Luvaga, Associate Teaching Professor in Economics, has been leading programs to Argentina, Spain, Australia, Panama, Belize, United Arab Emirates, and US Virgin Islands since summer 1999.

Why do you lead programs?

  • To help students learn about, and also appreciate other countries, cultures, and economies. I just want students to be part of some wonderful experiences during their academic career at ISU.

What would you say to faculty that are considering leading a program?

  • Just do it!  It is a wonderful opportunity to get to know other faculty members across campus and learn more about their academic disciplines. It also helps you meet some wonderful college students.

How would you encourage faculty to lead a program?

  • Tag along on an already established program, or simply come and talk to some of us who have been leading programs for over 20 years! It must not be that bad if we are still doing it.

What have you learned by leading programs?

  • I have learned that the long term impact on students in immeasurable. I am still in touch with many of my former students that traveled abroad with me and all our talks still revolve around the places we visited and the things we saw. Some have even embarked on their own global travels and often blame me for having planted the travel bug in them. What a wonderful thing to be blamed for!

What has been your favorite program that you have led?

  • This is like asking me to choose a favorite child from my many. I love them all because they are unique and offer different experiences. Every time I go back to a county that I have been to many times, I still learn about one more thing that I had not noticed the past 5-6 times that I visited that country.

What has been most memorable about leading a program?Dr. Luvaga

  • Watching students who have never been on an airplane choose Australia or one of those 8-9 hour flight countries as their first study abroad program. They quickly come to realize that the large planes are actually comfortable, have individual TVs, and have a lot of free food.

What do you like to do in your free time?

  • Whenever I have free time, I travel some more to visit family and friends since most of study abroad programs are during breaks (spring break, Thanksgiving break, and winter break). I, therefore, don’t have that much free time but don’t feel sorry for me.

Is there a place that you would like to lead a program, but haven’t?

  • Yes, I would love to take students to New Zealand. Or maybe I should just tag along on one of the New Zealand trips.

Why should students study abroad?

  • It changes their lives and perspective on everything. They learn to appreciate other countries and cultures, but most importantly, they also learn to appreciate ISU and their home communities. There is nothing like being in a country to see and experience things with your friends and faculty members who have led trips to those countries for many years.

How would you encourage students to study abroad?

  • I would tell them to talk to other students who have participated in the program they are interested in or talk to the program directors. They should also visit the study abroad fairs as well as visit their respective study abroad office. Don’t be afraid and don’t just focus on your home college or department. There are so many programs offered by ISU faculty and would hate for students to miss out of such wonderful experiences.

Swine Industry in Thailand and Japan Provides Student Adventure

The Iowa Pork Producers Association provided monetary support for a study abroad program that took Iowa State University students on a learning experience this summer.  Read more . . .


Where are CALS Faculty/Staff Traveling?



AgronomyLee BurrasCosta Rica
 Michael CastellanoChina
 Thomas LubberstedtChina
Animal ScienceSteven LonerganChina
CALS AdministrationDavid AckerChina, Greece, Netherlands
EconomicsWallace HuffmanItaly
FSHNRuth MacDonaldCanada, United Kingdom
HorticultureGail NonneckeU.S. Virgin Islands
 Catherine SwobodaNetherlands, Uganda
 Emily ZimmermanNetherlands, Uganda
NREMLisa Schulte-MooreUnited Kingdom
Plant Pathology & MicrobiologyShrishail NaviIndia
 Valeria Velasquez-ZapataColombia

Please feel free to let CALS Global Programs know where you are traveling!  Information can be sent to

Upcoming Events

November, 2019

Friday, November 15, 2019 Application Deadline: EARTH Service Learning on St. John - Semester/Spring 2020

Friday, November 15, 2019 Application Deadline: Creating a School Garden: Service Learning in Uganda - Summer 2020

Monday, November 25, 2019 Application Deadline: Cathedrals, Castles, Culture and Cuisine-sustainable, Safe & Nutritious Food in France

Saturday, November 30, 2019 Scholarship Deadline: INSIGHT into Diversity Study Abroad Scholarship

December, 2019

Sunday, December 1, 2019 Application Deadline: Dean's Global Agriculture and Food Leadership Programs: Rome

Global Update, a newsletter to keep Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences faculty and staff informed of international activities and initiatives, is prepared bi-monthly. To subscribe, send your name, e-mail address and the message "Global Update subscribe" to  To unsubscribe, send "Global Update unsubscribe."