The incredible impact of African interns
“Strong desire to learn”
That’s how Kevin Buchanen at Iowa Cage Free characterizes the six South African poultry interns the farm has hosted on one-year internships funded by the World Poultry Foundation through the Future Farmers Foundation of South Africa since early 2017.
As Business Unit Lead at this 1.4 million bird, over one million egg a day operation, Kevin interacts with the interns and observes their training on a daily basis. He particularly praised the strong leadership skills that the first South African interns displayed. It set a precedent for successive rounds of interns through the overlap in their stays.
The South Africans make up only a small contingent of Iowa Cage Free’s workforce, but they stand out in their drive, says Kevin, and their “willingness to do the work and learn.” Kevin is also favorably impressed by their politeness.
He concedes there is some culture shock for these young adults upon arrival. “It takes some time to get them out of their shells,” but “they open up very well within weeks.” The small town of Clearfield, Iowa (population 200), also embraces the South Africans. Residents, often employees of the company, have taken them fishing in the summer and roller skating most recently – “I heard it was a blast,” says Kevin, adding that the interns like the snow, but, and no surprise here, “not so much the cold.”
Iowa Cage Free is proud to participate in this international training program. “We’re happy to help an aspiring poultry farmer get a leg up, learn our farming practices and American culture” says Kevin. For their part, the South Africans are thrilled and grateful to get the big-farm US poultry experience.
The South African interns participate on a J-1 visa exchange visitor program sponsored by the WISE Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Dyersburg, Tennessee.
Ms. Frances Chisholm
Friend & Supporter of the WPF
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