Frontier Coop hosts students from Ukraine

Wendy Werner

Under the J1 Visa Program, Frontier Coop of Syracuse employs three students from the Ukraine. Frontier Coop CEO Jeremy Wilhelm and the students attended the July 12 Syracuse Area Chamber of Commerce Meeting. 

The students, ranging in age from 21-28 years old, introduced themselves and entertained questions from chamber members ranging from what their favorite foods were to some of the differences between the Ukraine and the United States.  One of the students said steak was their favorite food while another said people in the United States were nice.  They said their crop growing seasons were similar to Nebraska’s and that they were presently harvesting wheat in the Ukraine.  Other crops in the Ukraine include maize-corn and soybeans. 

According to a Frontier Coop press release, the J1 Visa Program is different than the H-2A via program.  The H-2A visa program allows U.S. employers to bring in foreign nationals to work in temporary agricultural jobs. However, the J1 visa program is considered more an educational program focused around culture and experience, and Frontier Coop is all about creating experiences.  The press release went on to say the students will be at the Coop for 12 months and will be exposed to new techniques, methodologies, and expertise, while enhancing their knowledge of American culture and society.

One of Frontier Coop’s core values is to “create opportunities” and as outlined in the press release, the company’s hope is to also help broaden the perspectives of their employees and teach them to think outside the box to find ways to work with different cultures. Along the journey, they want to be able to give their new foreign friends a great experience.  Frontier is asking community groups and others for assistance in getting the word out about the student visitors and helping find ways to get them more accustomed to their new environments.

“I strongly believe this program will be a great experience for our employees as they take the lead to participate and provide educational opportunities for the students, while learning about the Ukrainian culture, their customs, and how agriculture is practiced in Ukraine,” says Mike Carroll, VP of People Engagement & Safety, Frontier Coop. “We are very excited to welcome these students.”

Frontier Coop worked in partnership with the Foundation for Worldwide International Student Exchange (WISE), a non-profit cultural exchange program offering programs across the globe and the sponsoring organization. WISE handled the recruiting, interviewing, and pre-screening requirements, visa logistics, travel arrangements, and other support as needed.

Four additional students from the Ukraine will be at the David City-Yanka location.