Even though Geophry traveled over 8,000 miles to his CAEP program in America, he never felt too far from his home in Kenya. “The CAEP program allowed me to meet another group of friends, colleagues, and bosses who were later more like a second family to me. We shared a lot. We learned a lot,” Geophry shared.
Geophry trained at two large horticulture operations in the United States, including Schroeder’s Flowers Inc. in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Bergen’s Greenhouses in Forest Lake, Minnesota. “My hosts were indeed a family. They were not just hosts but families. I say this with a smile on my face.
Brian Schroeder was my first host when I arrived in the USA. He is a very kind man who welcomed me and made me feel at home in the USA. At Bergen’s, my second host, it was learning by doing. All the nervousness went away there, and I learned a lot from this company.
Some of the most valuable lessons I learned from my hosts were how to communicate. Ask if you don’t know, and speak up if in doubt. Also, it was eye-opening how hard people work in the United States, no matter their age or gender. The phrase ‘nothing comes on a silver platter’ must have been coined for the people in the United States. The skills I learned were how to operate a forklift and scissor lift, line production, irrigation, data recording for shipping plants, potted plant management, greenhouse construction, and how to work closely with supervisors and coworkers in team-oriented settings.
After completing my one-year CAEP program, I returned home to a consultant position at the Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) for Green Economy Youth Activation Program. My duty as a consultant was to conduct extensive physical due diligence on selected applicants at their business experience. The objective of this program was to train and provide financing options to strengthen youth-led businesses in the forestry and agroforestry sectors in Kenya.
I have now opened my own agribusiness where I grow and sell vegetables using a drip irrigation system. The CAEP program trained me in farm management and sustainable business operations and taught me how to use irrigation systems, marketing, and integrated pest management for nutritious and healthy vegetables. These skills have significantly helped my farming business, resulting in good returns. The CAEP program gave me the push to start my own agriculture business.
I would definitely recommend CAEP to anyone interested in experiencing cultural diversity and learning in a family setting away from home. CAEP is a platform for agricultural knowledge.”