Crossing Oceans to Move Mountains
CALS student explores passion for agriculture through study abroad experience
Dain Johnson learned from his study abroad experience that traveling truly changes one’s perspective — it increases cultural awareness, provides people with vital skills and initiates lifelong friendships.
A senior at the University of Idaho majoring in agricultural economics in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), Johnson spent fall 2017 studying at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
His study overseas was made possible by the J.D. Rowell scholarship, an award given specifically to students in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. J.D. Rowell, a former agricultural economics student at U of I, worked in Brazil for several years as an agricultural economist. He developed an interest for international markets and wanted to support agricultural economics students with a similar curiosity.
Johnson strongly encourages all students to consider studying abroad.
“It stretches you and grows you. You have no idea what it’s like to go to another country where everyone speaks another language and where you don't know anyone — it really pushes you and brings you out of your shell,” Johnson said. “In a sense I’ve crossed a barrier. I’m not afraid to walk up to a complete stranger. I will take those social skills and networking skills and use them for the rest of my life.”
Advocating for Agriculture
Johnson grew up on a ranching and farming operation in Caldwell, Idaho. His mother raises and sells Arabian horses and his father owns a custom harvest business. Johnson received his associate degree in political science from the College of Western Idaho and transferred to U of I as a junior. He felt right at home in CALS.
“It really is a big giant family,” Johnson said. “I don't know of too many other places where the professor’s doors are always open — you can just go in and talk to them any time you want and they’re all really willing to help you and they want more than anything for you to learn and succeed.”
After he graduates in May 2018, Johnson plans to move home and be involved in his parent’s operation over the summer. In the fall, he’s moving to Boise to work as an agricultural lobbyist and with Roger Batt, a private consultant and lobbyist and president of Batt Associates. Johnson interned for Batt in 2015.
Johnson said his study abroad experience helped inspire his passion to pursue agricultural lobbying.
“Agriculture needs a voice in politics,” Johnson said. “Going abroad has made me appreciate what we have here in the U.S. and value our country a lot more and it has made me want to work to preserve it.”
Learn how you can get involved in study abroad opportunities at the U of I.
Article by Jean Parrella, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Published in April 2018