About Us

Experience International promotes leadership development, capacity building, and technical and cultural exchange in fields related to agriculture, forestry, fisheries, science, engineering, business, marketing and natural resource management and conservation.
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The Experience International Team

Staff

  • Charlie Walkinshaw
    Charlie Walkinshaw Executive Director

    Charlie is Executive Director and a world traveler with a lifetime of international experience and service.He grew up in Seattle, WA and took a trip to Central America when he was 16 years old. There he worked with Amigos de Las Americas, helping to staff a health clinic in a remote region of Nicaragua. After graduating from the University of Maryland, he joined the Peace Corps and spent 3 years helping to develop an agricultural education program in Paraguay. Upon returning to the U.S. he landed in Minnesota, where he attended the University of Minnesota and became Director of MAST (a J-1 training program). Wanting to be his own boss, he moved back to Washington State with his family to start farming. Lucky for us, instead of becoming a farmer, he started Experience International! He also founded the Forest Stewardship Council, spent a year in Costa Rica with his family, and makes dozens of trips to Europe, Central America, and South America, for fun and business. Although he works like a maniac, his true personality is reflected in the fact that he knows when to quit and play instead!

  • Sarah Pearson
    Sarah Pearson Assistant Executive Director

    Sarah is the Assistant Executive Director and her primary responsibility is to oversee administration of the Inbound J-1 Exchange Visitor Program and the Outbound Program for U.S. Citizens, as well as Human Resources and Finances at EI. She holds a degree in Biology from Smith College, was an exchange student in Indonesia, taught science in the Peace Corps in Samoa, and was previously Associate Director of the Running Start Program at Whatcom Community College. Sarah has two nearly grown children and loves to run, swim, travel, and spend time with family and friends.

  • Rachael Ropkey
    Rachael Ropkey Program Manager

    Rachael is the Program Manager of International Exchange Programs for Experience International, responsible for facilitating both the Inbound J-1 Exchange Visitor Program and the Outbound Program for U.S. Citizens. Rachael earned a degree in Spanish education from Northern Arizona University, her TESL certification from Seattle Pacific University and her Master’s in International Education from the School for International Training (SIT). Her passion for travel and understanding different cultures has provided her the opportunity to live and teach in South and Central America, as well as in the country of Oman. Rachael has been an educator and program coordinator in education programs for the last nine years, as well as an education volunteer for the Peace Corps in Nicaragua. Just for fun, Rachael enjoys hiking, spending time in the outdoors, socializing with friends and family, listening to music and dancing.

  • Charlotte Roulet
    Charlotte Roulet Program Assistant

    Charlotte is the Program Assistant for Experience International. She grew up in Bellingham but has also lived in Cedar City, UT, and Towson, MD, before moving back to Bellingham four years ago.  She graduated from Western Washington University in June 2018 with a Bachelor’s in French and Linguistics, a TESOL certificate, and a music minor. Charlotte loves to travel, and has studied abroad in Chambéry, France, and Oslo, Norway. For fun, Charlotte plays double bass with the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra and enjoys photography, skiing, and learning languages.

Board Members

  • Sue Webber
    Sue Webber Board Member

    Sue is a Biology teacher at Whatcom Community College and an outdoor naturalist in Southeast Alaska. In her free time, she loves gardening and being in the mountains.

  • David Gross
    David Gross Board Member

    David is retired from a 50 year career with the U.S.Forest Service, where he worked first as a Forester working directly with trees, then as a Community Engagement Specialist working directly with people.  He graduated from the University of Arizona with a B. S. in Agriculture with a major in Watershed Management.  He is most proud of his 38 years of managing a summer program for teenagers that gave participants a positive, constructive experience working and learning in the great outdoors, and of his work as an Agency recruiter on university campuses around the Pacific Northwest.  He enjoys international travel, classical music, photography, botany, and spending time under the wide skies of rural Eastern Oregon where he has lived for a very long time.

  • Kelly Kester
    Kelly Kester Board Member

    Kelly Kester serves as the Director for International Programs at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Washington.  He has worked in the field of international education for more than twenty years at a variety of levels from middle school to university – as an international student advisor, ESL instructor, English programs administrator, and executive program director.

    Kelly earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Dakota with a double major in Foreign Language (Spanish) and International Studies, and a master’s degree in Applied Linguistics and ESL teaching certification from the University of Montana.

    Through his work in program development, Kelly travels frequently to Asia – specifically Indonesia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, Thailand, and Japan.  As an undergraduate he studied at the Universidad Nacional Autonima (UNA) in Heredia, Costa Rica.  He speaks Spanish, participated in a Fulbright Administrators program in Germany in 2008, and grew-up working as beekeeper in the summers in North Dakota.  In his free time Kelly can be found gardening, biking, cooking, stumbling through house renovation projects, and skiing.

  • Tommy Henderson
    Tommy Henderson Board Member

    Agriculture education is my passion! Being raised on a citrus ranch and an active member of my local FFA program in California, I began to appreciate the impact of the agriculture industry on my life and those around me. I decided to formally pursue agriculture through education. I earned my B.S. degree in Agri-Business and Teaching Credential and M.S. degree in Agriculture Education from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.  My wife and I taught high school agriculture and served as FFA leadership advisors for ten years in California. In fall of 2014, my wife, two young daughters, Moriah and Madeline, and I moved to Oregon to pursue a PhD in agriculture education to help accomplish a dream to become a teacher educator for future agriculture teachers.  I know am a faculty member at California State University, Chico teaching agriculture education and Agriculture Engineering/Technology courses. I am passionate about experiential authentic learning experiences  and providing students international learning opportunities.  I am truly fortunate to interact with incredible and creative students who are willing to take risks and learn. Being a board member with Experience International has been exceptionally rewarding and humbling to work with a dynamic group of people.

Where We Are

Our office is located 80 miles north of Seattle, WA and twenty miles south of the U.S.-Canadian border, in Bellingham. Within the United States, the Northwest includes most of Idaho, Washington, and Oregon states, and a portion of northern California. Ecologically speaking, the Northwest extends northward through Canada, and includes much of British Columbia and southeast Alaska. The Region contains the world’s largest temperate rainforest zone, stretching from Alaska to northern California. It also contains the Cascade Mountains (up to 14,000 ft. [4,300 m] in elevation), and the dry deserts of eastern Washington and Oregon.

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