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January 23, 2017

Students Visit Panama with Sustainable Mission

Students Visit Panama with Sustainable Mission
Students try out canoe travel with trip advisor J.K. Osiri
Twelve students from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business Administration global immersion program ventured to the Central American nation of Panama over winter break. Students from all disciplines came together with one simple – develop a plan to sustainably cut down trees at a teak tree farm, find buyers and distribute the trees. 

Students worked with local business owners and leaders to learn about conservation. They also created plans for sustainability, ecotourism, logistics, sales and distribution.

“Our group of business, engineering, agriculture and ecology students came together both as a team of consultants with our specialties and strengths, and with a common goal,” said Lucas Kahnk, a senior international business major from Tecumseh, Nebraska.

Students interact with young and old of Panama
Students interact with young and old of Panama
The students were hands-on consultants who came up with a plan to maintain the sustainability of the farm while being successful in business and embracing the local culture.

“The students looked at a small teak plantation, La Finca Feliz in Guayabal, Chiriqui, Panama, and devised a plan to help harvest and sell their goods in an effective way relating to the Panamanian culture. First, they helped calculate the number of trees on the farm and then worked with the owner to determine how many they can harvest each year to be sustainable and profitable,” said Dr. J.K. Osiri, director of international business, associate professor of practice in management and faculty sponsor for the trip. 

Students earned course credit on the trip by enrolling in BSAD 491 International Studies in Business and Economics in the fall 2016 semester. In the class, students studied business practices and prepared for their mission in Panama.

Hanging in Panama
Hanging in Panama
“I had a chance to use the principles and information I learned in this and previous business classes in a context that truly mattered as we helped to evaluate a teak plantation, create a sustainable business plan and even broker a sale for our client,” Kahnk said.
In Panama City, students visited the U.S. Embassy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Grains Council where Marri Carrow, the Regional Director for the Western Hemisphere, presented. Students learned how international grain markets work and business is conducted in Panama. They also enjoyed unique cultural experiences such as celebrating the New Year and sharing meals with indigenous communities.
“We managed to get around language and cultural barriers easily. I had a blast seeing the country while learning from experts in the field and eating some delicious Panamanian food,” Kahnk said.
The next global immersion experience during spring break in Guyana also focuses on ecotourism. Visit, to see more available opportunities in 2017. The deadline to apply for programs and scholarships is February 1.
The students who traveled to Panama included:
Janelle Adams, junior, engineering, Hickman, Nebraska
Corrin Bemis, junior, political science, Omaha, Nebraska
Cale Brodersen, senior, management, Lincoln, Nebraska
Max Camey, senior, supply chain, Grand Island, Nebraska
Stephen Enke, senior, marketing, Omaha, Nebraska
Joseph Gomez, senior, international business, Omaha, Nebraska
Talia Halperin, junior, international business, Lincoln, Nebraska
Stetson Heirigs, senior, marketing, Aberdeen, South Dakota
Lucas Kahnk, senior, international business, Tecumseh, Nebraska
Alisa Petersen, junior, natural resources and environmental economics, Fort Collins, Colorado
Debbie Seeley, sophomore, accounting, Bellevue, Nebraska
Jacy Spencer, junior, agricultural economics, Brewster, Nebraska

KETV News Story - UNL Students Visit Panama for Project