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Grossnickle among Md. FFA delegation on South Africa trip
By CARYL VELISEK
MYERSVILLE, Md. (Feb. 14, 2017) — Ellie Grossnickle of Frederick County just returned from what she called “the trip of a lifetime.”
As the 2016-17 Maryland FFA president, she traveled to South Africa with other FFA Maryland state officers for a fast and intense study of farming there.
“We went to Pretoria, Johanusburg and Cape Town in South Africa and we toured quite a few farms,” she said.
Among them were a number of produce farms, citrus and fruit farms, and wineries and those growing table grapes.
They also visited a Boer Goat farm, an ostrich farm, and a farm raising abalone, a type of sea snail.
“We went on a farm tour on a crocodile estate where they raise 8,000 crocodiles for hides, daily for Asia,” Grossnickle said.
At each stop, she said they toured the facility for two hours, and got to talk to the manager.
“Contrary to what you might think, they use a lot of technology in South Africa, and most of the large farms employ about 100 workers,” Grossnickle said, “and all farm managers were white, and employees were black.”
They visited a beef feedlot with 30,000 head of Brahma and Brahma-cross cattle.
They did visit a emerging farmer’s apple farm which the government provided land and buildings. The manager was on contract with the stipulation that after 35 years he could buy the farm.
“I found the main difference between there and here, is diversity. Their production — crops, produce — is more diverse than ours,” she said.
Other experiences on the trip included visiting Table Mountain and the Cape of Good Hope and sharing meals with the locals.
They stayed at a private game reserve and took two safari rides so they got up close to some of the wild animals, she noted.
“Everyone seemed so happy with what they had and every one was so nice and friendly,” she said. “I hope to go back one day and learn more about the culture.”
They also went to the Apartheid Museum. “And we leaned more about Nelson Mandela and how their Apartheid movement is a lot farther along than our Civil Rights movement is and how it’s the same all across the globe. Most everyone is doing the best to produce and to raise healthy food, and how it gets from farm to farm to table.”
“This trip taught me life lessons of how to be appreciative, of living in the moment,” she said. “And I would encourage anyone, if you ever get the chance to go there - go!”
The just turned 19 year old, who was active in the horticultural program at Middletown High School, has been a member of the National Honor Society, a member of the Middletown Valley 4-H Dairy Club, is the daughter of Donald and Donna Grossnickle of Ellerton View Farm, where she grew up with two brothers and a sister.
The Grossnickles have 150 Holstein cows and grow all crops for the herd on their 450 acre farm.
“I enjoy all kinds of activities,” Grossnickle said. “Especially educating others about agriculture. I love kids and I like to read, and last year I was intermediary with third graders at Middletown Elementary School, on an International Leadership Seminar for state FFA officers, a program offered through the National FFA and open to 75 state officers, for which you have to apply. Six Maryland girls were able to go.”