“I participated in my CAEP horticulture program in 2016 and 2017 and trained at Fillmore Greenhouses Inc. in the United States. I am now working as a coffee farmer in my home country the Philippines. I feel like the CAEP program really opened my eyes to different agricultural practices and cultures. My friends were from all over the world and the experience taught me how much I can learn by traveling. I came home to the farm eager to apply what I learned with a mission to set the bar in coffee production in the Philippines after my program.
Coming to America was more than what I expected! It is different to see and read about America and then actually have the opportunity experience the real America by working and living in the countryside. It was so amazing! The biggest difference between the Philippines and America is how they run a farm. Americans are so particular about collecting data, records, working hours, quality, and safety. Many of the management practices I learned during my time America I am now implementing now on the coffee farm. The farm has never been so efficient since then.
I have helped my employees learn and develop at the farm. That way we see things eye to eye, after all, we work as a team. So we prune, de sucker, fertilize and irrigate better now. We take note of the man-hours spent on every job. We also collect data from our coffee trees. On my recent trip to Vietnam, the data and this mindset were very useful in my coffee production training.
My host was really open to teaching me new things. I experienced a lot of different jobs and learned new things every day, especially how to be efficient. I learned basic practices that are up to now, unheard of in my country. As a farm owner, it puts me above the technical know compared to local farmers in the Philippines.
During my CAEP experience, I traveled to New York City, Washington DC, Toronto, and several parks and local festivals. It was beyond belief at some point and every place I visited always had a colorful story behind it. The highlight was the trip to Washington DC. It was a bunch of trainees who decided to buy a car with a destination in mind. I have also stayed in touch with my fellow trainees and interns. In fact, I went to Vietnam and met my Vietnamese friends there. My good friend Huong who I lived with during my time in the USA for about seven months even picked me up at the airport.
Some of the most valuable lessons and skills I learned included how important traveling to learn is. I come from an island so traveling abroad was always such a difficult and mystical thing. But after the program, I understood how small and big the world actually is. I don’t have to be afraid if I go to a country that doesn’t speak my language, and wherever I go, there is always something to learn.
My perspectives were changed during my program and I see cultures differently now. I want to go to South America and Africa next to learn about coffee production. This would never have crossed my mind without the friends I made in the USA.
The CAEP program has many challenges, both work and cultural related. But if you enter the program with an open-mind and thirst for adventure, then consider CAEP as the best investment after college. You will experience a hero’s journey like no other.
I am a more capable farm manager because of my CAEP experience. I would recommend CAEP to every young agriculturist I know. Do this while you are young!”