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Laura Toben & Colin Johnson are heading to Germany


Ellsworth Community College sophomores Laura Toben of Parkersburg and Colin Johnson of Eldora are busy “cramming” for the experience of a lifetime … they leave next week for separate two month agricultural work/study experiences in Germany. Toben and Johnson are recipients of the first-ever Todd Welden Memorial Scholarships, which are financially supporting their educational and cultural exchanges.

They’ll travel to and from Germany together, but Toben will be staying at the Denis Pfaff farm in Oederan Gahlenz and Johnson will stay with the family of current ECC exchange student Johannes Ben Kockert in Wittichenau/Saxony, about an hour away. They may do some traveling and sightseeing together, but their work/study experiences will be separate. Both will be assisting in the day-to-day work activities at two German family farms, where they’ll experience springtime German farming operations and practices from all angles. They will also visit agricultural schools and attend meetings in Dresden and Berlin with Dr. Peter Jahr, a representative of the Parliament of Saxony and the European Union, who will introduce them to other European dignitaries.

“I’m ready, for the most part,” says Toben. “The language barrier will be iffy, but I’ve downloaded Google Translate and some translation apps that I can use. My anxiety is up now because I’m trying to finish spring term classes and exams ahead of time, but I’m really looking forward to getting to Germany. I’m excited about all the new experiences: the people, the food, the agriculture, the architecture … all of it!

Johnson, who has never flown in an airplane, echoed Toben’s enthusiasm. “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be, but since I’ve never traveled like this before I feel like I’m winging it. My father has always encouraged me to look for and accept opportunities for international travel. As a Farm Management major at ECC I need to do three internships, but my father feels it’s best that I look beyond our family farm for that. This is really about the best possible internship I could have … I couldn’t pass this up! I think this will be a life-changing opportunity for me.”

ECC social science faculty member Joerg Rochlitzer, a native of Germany, has been involved for several years in bringing Dr. Peter Jahr to Iowa Falls and the ECC campus, where he has visited and lectured with local and state officials. Their efforts have resulted in educational exchange opportunities for German and ECC students, which have now have expanded thanks to the scholarship gift from the family of Todd Welden.

PHOTO CAPTIONLaura Toben of Parkersburg and Colin Johnson of Eldora are pictured with ECC faculty member Joerg Rochlitzer (center), a native of Germany who is coaching them on German language, customs and culture prior to their departure for a two-month work/study exchange in Europe.

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