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University of Iowa News Release

May 22, 2006

CIVIC Sponsors Visit By Belarusians To Learn About Iowa Agriculture

Four Belarusian visitors and two interpreters will visit Iowa City and neighboring counties Wednesday, May 24, to Monday, May 29, to learn about Iowa's agricultural system. The Council for International Visitors to Iowa Cities (CIVIC) is sponsoring the visit as part of the U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program.

For three weeks the visitors will travel cross-country to learn about agricultural management practices in the United States. The Department of State outlined specific objectives for the trip: visitors will meet with farmers to learn about managing private farms, tour individual farms to study different conservation methods and explore the role of higher education institutions in strengthening United States agriculture.

As a former republic of the Soviet Union, Belarus is changing from government-controlled collective land plots to a free market system, said Tom Baldridge, CIVIC executive director. During their trip, the Belarusian guests hope to learn about America's free market system in an effort to foster a smooth transition at home.

Visitors include: Valery Baikou, owner of ValBik Farm; Uladzimir Lukonin, director of Holodon Company; Siarhei Kashel, manager of Viliya Farm, a former collective farm that went bankrupt; and Valery Savitski, deputy director of Malinovy Sad Agribusiness; Yves Franquien, interpreter; and Valery Yegorov, interpreter.

On Thursday, the guests will meet with the executive director of the Johnson County Extension Service, Gene Mohling, who will give an overview of Iowa agriculture. On Thursday and Friday the visitors will travel to surrounding counties and private farms for a comprehensive look at agriculture, focusing on pork, corn, eggs and soybeans.

On Saturday morning, the Belarusians will visit an Iowa City farmer's market to meet and talk with local individuals who sell their own goods.

CIVIC is one of two organizations in Iowa that supports the U.S. Information Agency's International Visitor Program, and is a community organization of volunteers "serving and hosting international visitors as a means to promote international understanding on a person-to-person basis," Baldridge said.

CIVIC is part of UI International Programs, which consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost and dean for International Programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

For a more detailed itinerary of the Belarusians' stay, call the CIVIC office at 319-335-0351. The office is located in 1111 University Capitol Centre.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026, Program: Tom Baldridge or Marianne Weiss, 319-335-0351,; Writer: Erika Binegar.