Greetings from Puerto Rico! I am writing from San Juan where the American Farm Bureau Federation convention is taking place.

Even though this is my first trip to Puerto Rico, I am a pretty regular world traveler with a well-established comfort zone and love for the adventures of new places. This trip has been extra fun for me because I am sharing it with three girls from the local collegiate Farm Bureau chapter at Pratt Community College.

National events like this are great for professional development. The weekend has been jam-packed with big-name keynote speakers, educational workshops, a tradeshow full of potential employers and the chance to network with Kansas Farm Bureau leaders. Over the last few years, I am proud to have worked with our county Farm Bureau board to make trips like this happen for our student members. Providing travel opportunities is invaluable for the development of life and leadership skills.

An equally valuable part of these trips are all of the lessons in “adulting” that come from traveling, often for the first time, without family. Even students who have previously travelled are often forced to pay attention to their surroundings, learn how to navigate airports and cities, and how to problem solve in an unfamiliar place.

There have been many exciting firsts among the students this trip: first flights over the ocean, first time seeing the ocean and a whole lot of new fun experiences like tasting local cuisine, night kayaking complete with glow-in-the-dark face paint, an excursion to a natural waterfall in the rainforest, and a trip to Disney World on way back.

Seeing travel through their youthful eyes has reminded me of the wonder, joy and laughter that come from new adventures. These experiences are instilling in our students a desire to step outside their comfort zones and take risks, to learn about places and cultures different from their own.

It is rewarding to see the students getting excited about all the ways they can get involved in our organization in the future, demonstrate a high level of professionalism and service through their volunteer roles at the event, and have meaningful interactions with people who have lots of great life experience to share.

As an advisor, I am thrilled when people on the trip complement our collegiate students for showing interest, dress sharping, acting respectfully, and being helpful. Those affirmations are showing the students how to build solid reputations and be a stand out which will serve them well in their professional lives.

The lessons of this trip are like pebbles causing ripples in the water. The students will share their memories with family, peers and groups like our county Farm Bureau board, but the impact will be bigger than that. The growth will continue and influence their perspectives for years to come.

My excitement for the doors being opened to my students is a bit nostalgic as travel has served as a big part of my own story. I was once young and inexperienced too until organizations in my community and industry made investments in me that changed my life and made me into the person I am today.

Travel is powerful at any age but it can be direction altering for our young people to help learn who they are and who they want to become. I urge to you to look for ways to encourage and support young people in your family or community to travel. Your support might be the key that opens the door for a great future leader.