Ellen Woods pictured during her Colorado exchange.
On the 17th June 2018, I flew to Denver International Airport from Dublin to begin my Young Farmers exchange programme.
My first impressions of Colorado.... it is flat? I thought it would be very mountainous but looking out the window of the plane I could see large flat areas of farm land and it wasn’t green. Colorado is at an altitude of over 5000ft and Denver the capital is named the mile-high city. The Rocky Mountains are to the west of the state and can be seen for miles and as you look to the east you see large areas of flat plains.
I began my exchange at the 4H state conference at Colorado State University in Fort Collins just north of Denver. It was a brilliant week, I met the 7 other IFYE’s and we all clicked immediately. It was interesting to watch state competitions such as stock judging, horse bowl and public speaking, and we visited the agricultural campus of the university and the new state of the art $50 billion football stadium.
On Friday 22nd June, I moved to my first host Kellie. I had an excellent week and she was a brilliant host. I made handmade soap with Kellie’s mother, we went to The Greely Stampede a professional rodeo, the local farmers market, camping in the Rockey Mountains and visited the Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Garden of the Gods a national park with amazing Red Rocks, it was a fun filled week.
On Sunday 1st July, I moved to the south of the state to the New Mexico border to stay with the Comden family for the rest of my exchange. Erin and Matt have three girls, Elise (7), Ethelyen (5) and Elenor (3). It is great fun fitting into family life. Matt is a fire fighter and I have had the opportunity to visit the fire station. We have visited the Royal Gorge in Canon City, and took the longest suspended gondola in the USA across the gorge. Matt and I then swung across the gorge on a large swing and it was terrifying flying at 1200ft over bright red rocks where the train tracks below look as small as toys. We walked back across the suspended bridge, Carrick a Rede seems so small compared. Things really do go bump in the night here, looking out of my window to see what all the noise was I surprised to see a bear in the family’s bin which was very exciting. There have been a lot of family celebrations, on the 4th July we celebrated Independence Day and Elise and Elenor’s birthday with all the extended family. The highlight of my exchange was going western riding with Erin’s cousin. We were moving cattle from the low ground up to the mountains to water. I would just love to be a cow girl. I also have had the opportunity to attend a 4H meeting which run along very similar lines to our Young Farmers club meetings at home.
In true Northern Irish style I threw a party for the Comden’s family and friends, I made a typical Northern Irish dinner of sausage, beans and mash followed by pavlova and Irish coffee.
This has been a fabulous experience and I would encourage all YFCU members to apply for an exchange. I would like to thank my club Annaclone and Magherally YFC and Young Farmer’s Ambassadors for their support.
Ellen (right) pictured with Erin Comden (exchange host) during her trip to Colorado.
Ellen pictured with the Comden family (exchange hosts) during her YFCU exchange trip to Colorado.
Ellen Woods pictured horseback riding
Enjoying a catch up
Ellen enjoyed herding cattle on horseback during her exchange trip.