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Program Design

All IVP Specialists have backgrounds in education and extensive experience in designing and facilitating participatory, experiential training programs to meet the common goals of hosts and visitors. We’re able to connect USFS units, USDA offices and other partners to create programs that allow international participants to engage with communities, the private sector, academic institutions, and local governments here in the United States. We also have experience supporting large meetings and conferences with international attendees and coordinating tours and visits for partners interested in learning about specific topics or a range of topics. Learn more about some of our special programs:

  • The International Forestry Fellows Program (IFFP) is coordinated in partnership with the National Forest System, International Programs, the University of Applied Forest Sciences in Rottenburg, Germany, the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, Spain, and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. This experiential education program provides internships to 8-10 students with USFS units lasting 2-5 months each year.
  • The International Science Leadership Forum is an opportunity for our current visitors on our J-1 visa sponsorship to visit Washington, D.C. for 3 days each year. In this Forum, participants have a unique opportunity to network with each other, explore the cultural sights of DC, and connect their contributions to the greater mission of the agency.
  • Exchange Visitor Program Orientations are in-depth program orientation webinars covering J-1 program regulations, cultural adaptation and an introduction to US customs and culture.

Some best practices in program design for all types of programs are below:

Think ahead

Inviting international visitors to participate in special programs requires advanced planning. If the host and visitor are planning a long term program, it is important that they discuss their goals and objectives of the exchange in advance. The more detailed this conversation is, the more rewarding the exchange will likely be for both hosts and visitors.

Write a clear invitation letter

An overview of the activities and purpose of the exchange should be in the official invitation letter. International visitors hosted by the US Forest Service and our official partners must have official invitations from the Forest Service and the appropriate visa for the particular activity. In many cases, it is only appropriate for official visitors to enter the USA with a J-1 visa as a part of the Exchange Visitor program, though other types of visas may be acceptable in limited cases. Having the appropriate visa and a record of this on file in International Programs is important for both the visitor and the US Forest Service. Even minor and inadvertent violations of Immigration, Labor and US Forest Service regulations can have serious and irreversible consequences.

Use the Training/Internship Placement Plan

In order to host some categories of the J-1 visa, such as Trainees and Interns, the hosts, visitors and IVP specialists will collaborate on a DS-7002 Training/Internship Placement Plan to outline the objectives, activities, methods, and evaluation tools for each program. These J-1 programs are especially structured and provide practical, hands-on experience by exposing the visitors to new tools, techniques, and skills. Individualized training programs often include blended learning of formal trainings and experiential field work to support a student’s academic objectives.

Regardless of whether a visitor comes on a J-1 visa or a different type of visa, your IVP specialist will be able to assist you in developing an appropriate program design for the exchange. To initiate the planning process, contact an IVP Specialist for advice on the appropriate visa classification for your program and other useful tips.

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