For the last 31 years, The Ohio Program has provided U.S.-based horticultural and agricultural training for students and recent graduates from abroad. We have now built relationships with colleges specializing in all areas of agriculture, horticulture and landscaping from more than 50 countries.
These days, about one-third of our participants come from Europe, one-third from Asia and another third from South America. Brazil, the U.K. and China dominate our program these days, but we have substantial contingents from Germany, Indonesia and Australia as well. As an additional service, we organize internships abroad for young Americans interested in horticulture, agriculture and turf grass.
Hosting companies are required to provide good training experience with modern technologies and techniques, free or low-cost housing and at least the minimum wage. Our participants have excellent theoretical background, some practical experience and a strong desire to learn and experience. Our program interviews and screens the applicants, coordinates the visa and provides specialized health insurance that exceeds all the Department of State’s requirements for J1 visas.Training can range from three to 12 months. Management/business and similar internships can last up to 18 months.
We try to visit each hosting company at least every other year.
We provide 24/7 phone emergency assistance for interns and hosts. The Ohio Program is small, with only about 400 participants annually. This allows us to provide quick, personal service to hosts and interns. Our staff spends a lot of time traveling internationally to recruit and meet potential applicants. The program is supported by host contributions (currently $146 per month per trainee).
Our program does not advertise much — about 80 percent of our applicants join the program based on recommendations from past participants. This helps the applicant to be better prepared for the U.S. adventure. The program is also organized in such a way that both hosts and interns rate the experience very highly. Hosting foreign interns is also the best and most cost effective way to learn about other cultures and gain international perspective and contacts.
International interns are very enthusiastic and dedicated. Each student who contacts our office must go through a series of complex application procedures, multiple interviews and other steps to qualify. Only the most motivated are successful. These interns quickly become one of the most effective members of your team.
The Essay Contest
After learning about the Ohio Program, Greenhouse Grower challenged the interns to write about their experiences. In this essay contest, we wanted to know what the next generation of growers learned about everything from plant care to cultivating new customers. We questioned how different greenhouse production is in their home countries than in the U.S. Read on to see what they had to say.