October 31, 2001 | By: Gidget High, Ag. Communications Intern

The International Foreign Youth Exchange allows 4-H youth to visit other countries, experience different cultures and even host an international student in their home, with parental approval, of course. IFYE provides a variety of opportunities for 4-H youth, leaders, alumni, families, and Extension employees.

Recently, Tony Stoeppel, 1999-2000 Kentucky 4-H president, participated in the IFYE Ambassador program.

Stoeppel traveled to France for six weeks. He lived with five different families during his visit, all of them agricultural – ranging from dairy farmers to grain farmers. Stoeppel said his perception of France before going over there was very different than what he experienced. He expected the technology to be a few years behind the United States, but it actually was very up-to-date.

Stoeppel said the families he stayed with were very caring, kind, understanding and went out of their way to help him. He said he learned a lot of slang language, as well as how the government works with the agricultural industry.

“My international experience was irreplaceable” Stoeppel said. “I could talk about it all day.

Currently Stoeppel is a junior at the University of Kentucky, majoring in mechanical and agricultural engineering. He also is involved in UK student government.

The two major exchange programs are IFYE Representative and IFYE Ambassador. Wendy Stivers, 4-H Extension specialist for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, said the Representative program is for ages 19 through 30.

Participants live and work with the host family for three to six months. Stivers said representatives are expected to help with day-to-day chores in their host home.

The exchange starts in June and ends in either September or mid-December. Participants may attend college in the host country and receive credit, with prior approval by the university they plan to attend back in the United States. Areas to choose from are Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and Africa.

The Ambassador program is for ages 15 through 19, Stivers said. Participants live with a family for six weeks and learn how to appreciate cultural diversity.

Ambassadors will learn a different language, pursue new projects, and enjoy the sights. For more information about the IFYE program, contact Wendy Stivers 859-257-5961 or your county Extension office.


Wendy Stivers 859-257-5961