Scientific Roots in Europe- Education Abroad- Erin Sheehan

My step project included traveling to London and Paris through a study abroad program called Scientific Roots in Europe. During this time we were able to tour various scientific sites in Europe and see the city.

During my step project, I learned how to be more independent and travel abroad by myself. Before my project, I was relatively independent. However, after my experience, I was able to learn how to navigate the underground subways in both London and Paris and not get lost in order to get from place to place. I assumed everything would be exactly out of a post card. Instead it was very different from what I experienced. Every moment I spent was unexpected and completely worth it. The places we visited allowed for once in a lifetime experiences such as Stonehenge, Kensington Palace, the Louvre, etc. I noticed this change when I returned and realized how much I had gained from my experiences in Europe.

During my time in Europe, we began by touring various museums in London such as the British Museum, the London eye, the scientific royal society, etc. We then were able to take time on our own to explore the city and see other places we were interested like Kensington palace, Stonehenge, etc. We later were able to travel to Paris and see the Eiffel tower, the Arc De Triumph, the Louvre, etc. While abroad, I became very close with the people in my group and had an amazing time with them.

This led to my transformation through giving me the opportunity to get lost in a foreign city and become more independent. Before my step project, I never thought that I would go abroad let alone to London and Paris. These two cities had always been on my list of where I wanted to go. I am so thankful for the opportunity step has given me to travel abroad. Without my step project, I would have never had the opportunity to see a different culture and learn more about other cities.

Other key experiences that I was able to have was the amazing opportunity to see where various scientists lived and worked. This was inspiring as a science major after learning about these people since high school and finally being able to see their houses/ labs and walk the paths they walked. I hope to one day return to these cities and see them once again.

This transformation was significant in my life by showing me other cultures and helping me become more independent. Because I am interested in going to medical school, I did not think I would have time to go on a study abroad. However, this project has forever impacted my life and has given me the opportunity to see Europe. Seeing various scientist’s homes/ labs was incredible and has been valuable to my career in science.


Scientific Roots in Europe- Education Abroad- Theresa Petronzio

My STEP Signature Project was called Scientific Roots in Europe. We traveled to both London and Paris for a few days each and went to several museums relating to the history behind science and scientific discoveries. We had to keep a travel journal and reflect on the museums and sights that we saw abroad.

One change or transformation that occurred because of this trip was probably how I viewed the places that I had been. Before traveling to London and Paris, I had preconceived ideas of what it was going to be like from television or other people who had visited there. I had this idea that London was a very old, rustic, yet beautiful place and Paris was a romantic, breathtaking place. This was true of both places, but they were also very different from how I imagined. I think the transformation occurred when I realized that what you see in movies and what people tell you is a very tainted idea of what it is really like when you get there. I think that this helped me learn that I shouldn’t really have expectations of a place before I travel there because I played into how I felt when I got there and left me a little disappointed.

The first thing that led to this transformation was specifically seeing the major landmark tourist sites in each of these places. For example, the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Growing up, I had always been completely fascinated by the Eiffel Tower and had waited my whole life to see it, but upon seeing it, it was a little less exciting than I had imagined it to be. I think this plays into the idea that when you come with huge expectations, sometimes it may not live up to it. I found that the places I had never heard of before, or things that I ran into along the way seemed to be more beautiful and unique to me than some of the huge tourist sites.

Another thing that aided in this transformation was that when you see these countries in movies and on television, you never really know the little things about it. For example, that most of the time in these countries you have to pay to use public restrooms. I never knew this before going there and it changed my view a little because this was something I had to adjust to and something that we often take advantage of having in the U.S. This was not something I would have imagined for these places so again my expectations were wrong.

Before getting to Paris, I had imagined it being a romantic and beautiful place, which it was. The views were breathtaking, the music was beautiful and the food was fantastic, but there was one thing that was not made clear to me by the movies and shows. Paris, although extremely beautiful is kind of like New York City in the aspect that it is somewhat dirty. Not necessarily dirty, but just trash thrown around, a lot of graffiti and destruction. This was not what I was expecting, but it was foolish of me not to imagine that because this is just like any city. Overall, I just realized that the places that I had imagined my whole life were not exactly like I would have expected, and this made it even more interesting and beautiful in my opinion. I am going to continue to try and have no expectations for further travels so that I can keep an open mind and take in the culture as it comes.

I think that this change is an important thing to realize in life because it is kind of a metaphor for life itself. Life is not always going to be easy and what is thrown at you is not always going to be what you expect. If I try to not have overly high expectations than I will not be as disappointed when things don’t go exactly my way in life and I will be able to just readjust and learn from what happened. Every experience in life is a learning experience and I am thankful that I got to go on this trip and have a learning experience that most people can’t have in their life time. I am very thankful for the opportunity that I had because of STEP.


Abroad in London and Paris for Spring Break

STEP reflection prompts

  • Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.

My project entailed taking on OSU in person course during this spring semester and then going abroad to London and Paris as a class. While in these two cities I explored the many scientific museums, art galleries, and significant structures known in history. While abroad I was really focusing on the culture of the people and atmosphere to try and get a better understanding of people as a whole.


  • What about your understanding or yourself, your assumptions, or your view od the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?

The change that took place during this trip came to mind at the end of the trip when returning to the United States. While in the airport, waiting for my luggage, I realized how much I take for granted living in the US. The technology, clean water, free bathrooms, and the opportunities that people have in the United States is beyond anything that any other country has and most people do not realize this. I believe that if more people went abroad, more people would have a better understanding of people in general and would possibly be more kind.


  • What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?

As an example, people in the US always complain about people around them speaking different languages. But in Paris, everyone was always speaking different languages and it did not bother anybody. Instead most people just spoke multiple languages so they could communicate with almost anyone. It was very nice to see rather than the usual, “You live in America so you should speak English!”. Paris and London both did not have many bathrooms or clean drinking water in most places which is something that I take advantage of and 100% took for granted before now.

This affected me by teaching me to be more understanding in these situations when they occur in the US. By being a student at OSU, I am constantly around people of different cultures and languages than my own and that sometimes creates a barrier between people. Looking back on my freshman year here, I had too international roommates and it was very difficult to find similar interests to hang out and it was difficult to have lengthy conversations because their English was not the best. I never got mad at them or frustrated but I could have been more willing to put in more effort to get closer to them. Putting myself into their shoes, I would be scared in a different country than my own and I would probably be embarrassed not being about to communicate that well. So in the future in these situations, I will put in more effort to make a better situation out of it.

The overall atmosphere of being in the United States is also more of a clean feeling. London and Paris weren’t dirty but everything was very old and falling apart. So the fact that things in the United States get done so quickly with our technology is amazing. The buildings here are mostly modern and there is a very good system with the roads while in Paris and London that entire vibe is very different. The structure of the freeways, buildings, cleanliness did not seem as important in Europe versus the constant modern changes in the states.

  • Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable fro your life?

In the future I plan on being a teacher and this means that I will most likely be introduced to many different types of people throughout my career. I will also be working with children in the age range of 12-18 which is the range where they will most likely realize they are different than everyone else because students are not always the most accepting people. The more that I can travel and see how other people live will help me better communicate culturally to these students that come from other places besides the United States. Not necessarily talking about a possible language barrier, but more how they grew up with different cultural norms than we do in the US. This trip opened my eyes as to how unaccepting we are here in the US compared to other countries. One reason I think this is because the US is a separated country while France, for instance, is surrounded by many countries that all have cultural and language differences. Either way, I want to be a teacher one day that is most accepting understanding of everyone and the best way for me to be able to do this is to put myself in their shoes.


Image may contain: 4 people, including Savannah Moore and Jessica Sekelsky, people smiling, sky and outdoor

Image may contain: Jessica Sekelsky, smiling, sky, cloud, shoes and outdoor

Engineering Service Learning in Honduras

During Spring Break, I traveled to Honduras for ten days and worked at an orphanage of children who were born with HIV/AIDs. My team and I built an aquaponics system that will eventually provide cilantro and tilapia fish for the residents. Other teams on my trip implemented electrical improvements, expanded the goat enclosure, and created a compost bin.

I declared my Humanitarian Engineering minor during the second semester of my first year. When I declared this minor, I had only had experience in Humanitarian work around the Columbus community. I had always had the idea of expanding my experience abroad but wasn’t sure how to. When I found this trip, I knew it was the perfect first step. These ten days in Honduras became much more important to me than I would have ever thought. During this trip, I achieved things I thought were way beyond my knowledge, I made connections with people I thought I never would, and I found my passion. Because of this trip I am able to say that my biggest passion is using my engineering knowledge to help those of low socioeconomic levels all around the world. I fully immersed myself in the culture and the language and traditions and I can never be more grateful for how welcoming everyone was. I expected this trip to be incredibly difficult and somewhat ‘out of my league.’ I was entirely wrong with this expectation. I now have a better understanding of what I am able to accomplish and, more importantly, what we, as a group of random people who decided to take the same class, are able to accomplish together. I am incredibly blessed to be given this opportunity and will forever be thankful to those who shared it with me.

During our trip, we were living at the orphanage among the children. The children had been exposed to English since a very young age, but most of them were not exactly comfortable speaking it. Even with language being a barrier, it was very easy forming relationships with each and every one of them. Every night after dinner, we set aside time to play soccer, board games, or even something as simple as tag. Regardless of their situation, each child at the orphanage had a huge smile on their face all the time. Nothing could stand in their way and nothing could bring them down. They taught me so many things I thought I already knew. Their bubbly personalities and gleaming smiles will always be the most impactful and memorable things from this experience.

This trip was one of the first opportunities I had to really create something with my own two hands. I had little experience with power tools, no experience with aquaponics and even less experience abroad. I went into this trip apprehensive about each one of these things. By the end of the ten days, I felt as though I was a professional in all three. I was able to apply every aspect of my engineering knowledge and skills in just one experience. I improved my communication skills (in English and Spanish), my ability to lead and work in a team, and my trouble-shooting abilities. In a country where a Home Depot is not right down the street, my team and I learned to adapt and reconsider the importance of the part or tool when a problem arose. Because of this experience, I have become a better engineer and even a better person.

On one of our excursion days, my group and I visited a local university called Zamorano. This university was highly focused on agriculture and environment conservation in developing countries. The largest research topics were based on providing renewable energy through solar panels and wind turbines, sustainable agriculture practices and clean water harvesting in developing countries. What fascinated me the most was the amount of humanitarian agricultural projects they had been researching. They combined their dedication to teaching students with the importance of using engineering techniques to design for the poorer 90% of the world. Many companies all around the world focus on creating new gadgets and gizmos for the richest 10% of the people in the world. Zamorano is working to change that statistic and give the necessities to those who need it most.

This has been the most important experience of my life, thus far. Within these ten days I was able to find my passion and so many more interests I didn’t even know I had. I was comfortable in the Latin American culture and felt as though it was a second home. I see myself traveling back to Central America sometime in the near future and spending an extended amount of time there. I can now confidently say that my sole passion and dream in life is to use my Humanitarian and Biological Engineering skills to help those in need. I want to focus my life on aiding the poorer 90% of this world. I’ve discovered that I thrive in situations where the project could take a drastically different turn at any moment. I enjoy the creativity and problem-solving skills these projects require. I can’t imagine working at a job where I have mundane responsibilities and straight forward project objectives. I am excited for the future and where my new dreams take me.

Teaching and Learning Globally in Israel

Over the 2018-2019 winter break, I participated in a 10 day Education Abroad experience to Haifa, Israel where I explored a child-centered method of teaching and instruction in an inclusive, multicultural setting. The purpose of this program was to strengthen our own frames of reference when it comes to education. We focused on pedagogical competence and decision making. During our trip, we observed children in schools between preschool and 6th grade, while also having the opportunity to talk to current college students also studying education. While abroad, we learned about the many cultures within Israel and the importance of the country state. We also visited many historical sites as we traveled to other cities within Israel including, Nazareth, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv.

I chose this program because of my desire to become a more culturally inclusive educator. In addition to this, I have always wanted to travel to the Middle East to learn more about the many cultures and communities that call this part of the world home. At Ohio State, I do a large amount of research and studying on the educational theory of Culturally Responsive (and or Relevant) Pedagogy. The general meaning behind this theory is that teachers are expected to incorporate the backgrounds and the personal lives of their students into the classroom, to make the material more meaningful to them.

Israel has a level of multicultural diversity with a rich history that made it the perfect place to dive deeper into this theory. I was fortunate enough to discover a program that was not only hosted by The College of EHE but was also taught/led by two instructors in the department. The trip was heavily focused around inclusive teaching and instruction which carries directly into my future profession. Some of my favorite experiences from the trip includes having the opportunity to visit an archeological dig and travel to Nazareth and Jerusalem. I also enjoyed visiting schools around Haifa and learning about the various methods of conflict-resolution they are instilling in the next generation of children.

It truly was the community of people I met that made this trip so transformational. I was surrounded by Ohio State students and faculty that were profoundly dedicated to creating a meaningful learning environment for their future students. This attitude was accompanied by the group of Oranim students in Israel who openly shared their personal educational experiences.

Since returning home, I feel that I have a better understanding of an entire culture and country. Each person I met in Israel had a unique perspective that made this trip an authentic learning process. I have gained the skills of interacting constructively with people of different cultures. Which has also led me to feel as though I can better participate in discussions about the key principals of inclusive, multicultural & social rights oriented pedagogy. It was helpful to engage myself in hands-on experiences with children. Having the opportunity to observe a bilingual preschool, an all-boys school, and a Kibbutz Elementary school showcased the success of child-centered instruction. I have learned the importance of becoming a global educator in one of the most culturally rich settings in the world.

I completed a final project focused around the emotions and impactful moments of each day in a series of 10 paintings.

Painting PDF: Paintings-2kucslu

Claire Lavoie – Scientific Roots in Europe


Claire Lavoie

STEP Project Reflection

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.My STEP project was a study abroad trip to London and Paris called Scientific Roots in Europe.  Throughout the semester, the class has been studying scientific paradigm shifts (ex: evolution, pasteurization, etc.) that occurred in Europe, specifically in England and France.  Over Spring Break, we traveled to these locations and visited the sites of some of these discoveries, along with other landmarks like cathedrals and famous locations.


  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.Through this project, I learned a lot about the history of science, which gave me a better understanding of why the state of science is the way it is today. A lot of the scientific wonders that we take advantage of every day actually took years to develop or discover.  For example, medicine today is so successful because of the discovery of micro-organisms.  Without the understanding of “germs,” we wouldn’t know how to cure many of the diseases that affect us and our animals.

    Also, I was able to broaden my worldview by experiencing these amazing cities.  It helped me understand who I am as a person, and how I function in a large city. I also figured out that I really love being in a big city – especially in Europe.  I’ve been to NYC before, and really loved the atmosphere of a large city, but I loved the atmosphere in London and Paris even more.  The architecture is so beautiful, but they incorporate gardens and nature in a way that keeps you connected to the outdoors.  I really would love to live in London at some point in my life.


  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.The guest speakers in the class provided a lot of the information necessary to transform my ideas about the history and development of science. I feel like when studying science, people don’t get enough of the history, but hearing the stories of these famous scientists and then later seeing their laboratories and homes has really helped me build my understanding of science and the world.

    I had a lot of free time while on this trip, and it provided a great opportunity to develop my independence.  I learned how to navigate the underground and metro systems (which was especially challenging in France due to the language difference).  I couldn’t really rely on my phone for too much help with navigation, so I had to rely on my sense of direction and the maps in the train stations.

    My discovery that I belong in a big city came as a combination of everything that happened on the trip.  Traveling between different places and seeing the buildings and gardens, my interactions with locals, the little shops and pubs, just everything.  I felt a sense of belonging while I was there.

  2. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.These changes are important for my life because they’ve impacted my decisions about what I want to do with my future. I already knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I didn’t know where.  Now I have a better idea of what kind of place I want to live in.  Also, what I’ve learned about the history of science can be implemented into my teaching one day, and I feel like passing this information on to my future students will help them develop more than just teaching them how to do physics.  Maybe it’ll inspire them to study science and make a significant discovery of their own.


Scientific Roots in Europe

Name: Kareem Zade

Type of Project: Education Abroad


For my STEP signature project, I went to both London and Paris over Spring break to learn about the major scientific events that have had a huge impact on the world. We visited famous scientists’ houses, while also exploring the different cultures and cities of London and Paris.

During this trip, I learned to appreciate science from a whole new perspective. It is a completely different experience to actually go visit the homes of scientists such as Charles Darwin, rather than just learning about them and their findings in class or through a text book. I also got the opportunity to experience the different cultures of both cities, broadening my views of the world and all the variety it has to offer. In addition, I was exposed to many other interesting aspects of history and science while touring the many different museums that our class went to.

One of the activities that really changed the way I viewed science was while visiting the house/village of Charles Darwin. His work, such as developing the Theory of Evolution, has placed him as one of the most influential scientists in the history of this world. His theories resulted in a huge paradigm shift in scientific knowledge that led to a whole new perspective on life on Earth. Knowing all of these things, it was truly a breathtaking experience to visit his house and walk into the exact study room in which much of his work was done. It gave me an appreciation for the scientist, as well as a sense of amazement that they were able to develop such accurate theories using the materials/instruments they had during their time.

I was also fortunate to have traveled on this trip with many amazing like-minded students. We were allowed a lot of free time to roam around both cities, and it really led to a formation of strong bonds between us. I learned a lot about their personal stories and dreams, and was able to connect them outside of just class-related topics and issues. We learned valuable leadership skills and confidence in navigating the streets of both cities on our own.

Other activities that led to this transformation would be going on a lot of site seeing trips to explore the culture of each city. We went to so many parts of each city, and were able to part-take in much of the local traditions and activities. I broadened my perspective on the cultures of each city by talking to the locals and even having had the opportunity to go to a soccer game in London. I tried new foods, met knew people, and explored new places!

This experience has a huge impact on improving myself for both personal and career aspirations. I learned how to have confidence in myself when getting lost in the cities, while also learning about each cities cultures and the people that live there. I hope to become a doctor in the future, and having an understanding of people who come from different cultures is extremely important. Visiting scientific sites and museums also increased my love for science, which is crucial for someone entering the healthcare field. I also formed a lot of strong friendships/relationships with the other students in my class, further showing me that every person has a story to tell.


Human and Animal Interactions: Ireland

Rhiann Travis

Education Abroad

I participated in the Human-Animal Interactions study abroad trip, which was a 10-day trip to Ireland focusing on the role of animals in our society and how history, government, geography and infrastructure can impact cultural development and the use of land and animals in different societies. While in Ireland, we visited Dublin Falconry, Dog’s Trust and Rehoming Centre, Shelbourne Greyhound Racetrack, Dublin Zoo, John Renehan’s family sheep farm, Moorepark Pig Facility, Fota Wildlife Park, Donkey Sanctuary, Sean Hayes’ beef farm, and Teagasc-Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre. Visiting these places enabled us to understand the broad scope of differences in the human-animal interactions between Ireland and the United States in a variety of aspects.

My understanding of myself was affected greatly on this trip. My mother’s whole family is Irish; her father was born in Ireland and lived there for a brief time until his family moved to America, and much of our extended family still lives in County Cork and County Kerry. My grandfather and I were very close when I was young, and he would tell me story after story about Ireland—stories about the people, the history, the folklore, the traditions, and the beauty of his family’s home. I had dreamed of visiting Ireland since I was only five years old, because I wanted to see and experience the things my grandfather told me about for myself. Fifteen years later, I was able to fulfill my childhood dream through my STEP project, and it was everything I had ever hoped it would be.

This project allowed me to experience firsthand the homeland of my family. Growing up in Texas is about as different from Ireland as one could get, so even though I knew much about Ireland, it was hard for me to fully wrap my head around our family history. Being able to see and experience Ireland for myself gave me a much better understanding and appreciation for my heritage. It also reinforced my sense of identity by immersing myself in the culture of my ancestral home.

There were a few specific experiences during my signature project that catalyzed my personal transformation. The first was visiting the Brazen Head, which is Ireland’s oldest pub. There we were regaled with stories from Irish folklore and traditional Irish music while we ate. Listening to these stories reminded me immensely of all the times that my grandfather told me the same kind of stories, but this time it had a much more profound effect, because I had experienced enough of the culture at that point to give me more context to the story and, therefore, better appreciation for it. This appreciation gained also helped to develop a better sense of connection to my family’s history.

Visiting the cities of Cork and Galway also had a hand in my personal transformation. During our afternoon of free time in Cork, I had the chance to explore the city that my grandfather’s family came from. Recognizing pubs and restaurants that my grandfather had told me about—places that to me had always been in a faraway land—was an amazing yet surreal experience. In Galway, we had an entire free day to see the city, which was astounding. I had the chance to experience more personal interactions with the people and culture of Ireland. Being able to visit the original shop that sold Claddagh rings was also eye opening, since I got to purchase one of these rings from the same store that my great-great grandfather had purchased my great-great grandmother’s Claddagh ring when they were newly married.

Being able to see Blarney Castle was another profound experience for me. I have always been a fan of old architecture and castles, but being able to tour Blarney Castle was one of the most impactful opportunities of this trip. I was able to personally see the structure and architecture and imagine the castle restored to its former brilliance. I was able to connect with a very famous piece of Irish history by kissing the Blarney Stone, and I gained a much more palpable mental image of my family’s history.

This personal transformation is valuable to me because it has fulfilled a piece of my identity and sense of self that I have always felt was missing. Being the only member of my extended family who had not visited Ireland and who was raised far from my family, I had always felt disconnected and separated from this part of myself. This was especially difficult because I heard all about our family and Ireland from my mother and felt that I should be more connected to this part of my family, but I wasn’t. Visiting Ireland has filled this missing piece of myself, and has given me more confidence and more connection with an important piece of my family history and heritage. It has also allowed me to accomplish my lifelong goal of visiting the Emerald Isle for myself. I am now making plans to visit again someday to reconnect with my family that lives in County Cork, further solidifying my connection with my family.

Human Animal Interactions: Ireland

The Human Animal Interactions trip to Ireland trip opened my eyes to how different environments and cultures influence what types of animals are kept there and how people treat them. I saw the same Irish specific problems and benefits throughout the trip. The places that we visited fell into three focuses, conservation, adoption or farming, based on the tradeoffs they had to deal with.
The Dublin Falconry, Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park focused on the conservation of animals. Ireland’s stable environment allowed most animals in conservation settings access to the outside for most of the year. This gives Ireland a welfare benefit (natural living) and they can save money on indoor facility investments. The giraffe facility in Fota was fairly small because Giraffes only use it for sleep. Ireland does struggle with space in comparison to America. Ireland’s size is comparable to Ohio and urban development limits the size of city zoos. Even when comparing rural conservation areas like Fota and the Wilds, there is an obvious size advantage that The Wilds has over Fota. Transparency seems to be a problem consistent between America and Ireland, most apparent at the Fota rhino exhibit. The rhino caretaker had found the best system of feed enrichment to be a large blue plastic tub filled with food. It improved rhino health by slowing their feeding rate and forcing them to take jogging breaks (allowing more guest-rhino interaction), they could enjoy banging it to naturally exercise their dominance, and plastic was the only material that could survive rhino hits. However, one of the higher ups did not like the idea because of its unnatural look, so they keep it hidden indoors. I think it’s a shame that something that a solution that works so well can’t be shown because it is not “natural”. I can sympathize a little with the higher-up because guest disapproval might mean less people going to Fota and funding conservation efforts, but I still think there should be more transparency. This could be a learning experience for guests into how zoos can simulate rhinos feeding in the wild (ironic because although it looks less natural, it might better simulate how food is takes longer to eat) and also to teach guests about rhinos making loud sounds to show off dominance for mating.
Dog’s Trust and Rehoming Centre, the Shelbourne Greyhound Racetrack and the Donkey Sanctuary all highlighted Ireland’s struggle with finding homes for their many homeless domesticated animals. Pets tend to be treated more like farm animals than as family members in Ireland. Dogs are expected to “work for their food” and many families there treat pets as more disposable or christmas gifts. Whether or not this is a right or wrong way of viewing animals, it has led to a large population of stray or neglected animals in Ireland. As a result, Dog’s Trust and the Donkey Sanctuary has stepped in to help relocate the animals.
John Renehan Sheep Farm, Sean Hayes’ Beef Farm and the Teagasc facilities for pork and sheep grazing gave me insight into how Ireland has different farming techniques. Rain seems to be their greatest resource and struggle. The rain combined with their stable environment allows grass to grow like crazy there, making grazing management their main way of feeding their animals. However, the large amount of rain also prevents them from keeping their larger animals outside so beef farms have to have much larger indoor facilities than in America so that the Cows do not destroy the muddy grasslands (something called pugging). Sheep farms do not have to deal with this because sheep are lighter and only cause superficial damage to their pastures. Politically, the threat of Brexit has caused a lot of stir there. I am still not an expert on it, but Ireland exports their food products heavily (for example, 90% of their beef is exported) and Britain is their greatest consumer of most of their product. Brexit is the threat of Britain leaving the EU, which means that they might place tariffs on food products coming into Britain, which would then threaten many of the markets, including the largest agricultural market in Ireland, beef.
It was interesting to see Ireland and learn about how their culture affects the way they treat animals. I think Ireland might have been the best choice for this trip since their culture is heavily intertwined within agriculture.