The World Affairs Council of St. Louis recently had the pleasure of hosting a global delegation through the Department of State’s International Visitors Leadership Program titled Expanding Participation of Underrepresented Groups in Japan’s Agricultural Sector. The visit included a series of professional meetings, tours, and cultural experiences aimed at exploring agricultural innovation and community engagement in St. Louis.

The group began their itinerary with insightful meetings at The Yield Lab engaging with local experts Larry Taylor and Brandon Day. They then visited Farm Hand Ventures with help from Connie Bowen. They toured cutting-edge facilities such as the Helix Center gaining firsthand knowledge from Mike Davies and Nanoguard.

Our IVLP visitors were given a tour of Eckert’s farm, led by President and CEO, Chris Eckert. The visitors were able to learn about the variety fruits and vegetables Eckerts sell. Additionally, Chris spoke about their commitment to seven generations of sustainable farming.

In addition to Eckerts, the visitors received a presentation from Dr. Donald Mackenzie. The delegation explored advancements in plant science research They also received a tour of the Plant Science Center by Dr. Richard Schumacher.

The World Affairs Council of St. Louis was able to host a reception for the Japanese Visitors with the Ferguson community. Held at the Ferguson Brewing Company, three Japanese Visitors were able to mingle with 20 members of the Ferguson community, including Mayor Ella Jones. This program was possible through a grant partnership with Global Ties US and Marriott International that enabled us to finance a community meal with IVLP visitors.
This reception falls under the World Affairs Council’s Dinner Diplomacy program, which allows St. Louisans to host small dinners in their homes or attend receptions for international visitors participating in the International Visitor Leadership Program. These informal social gatherings allow for 1:1 conversation with new friends from around the world.

Their visit concluded with a comprehensive tour of Bayer Crop Science, further deepening their understanding of agricultural technology and innovation in the region. Beyond professional engagements, the delegation enjoyed cultural immersion, attending a performance of Les Misérables at the Muny and savoring the renowned St. Louis Barbecue. 

Overall, the IVLP visit provided a rich experience blending professional insights with cultural exchanges, enhancing bilateral relations and fostering collaboration in agriculture and community development between Japan and St. Louis.