About Us

Experience International's mission is to embrace and create opportunities for international understanding and human resource development through technical and cultural exchange in a wide spectrum of disciplines including but not limited to agriculture and natural resources
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ACTIVE PROGRAM PARTNERS
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TRAINEES & INTERNS(completed programs)
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STUDY TOUR and BIKE NW TRAVELERS

The Experience International Team

Staff

  • Charlie Walkinshaw
    Charlie Walkinshaw Tour Leader and Founder

    Charlie is the Founder of Experience International and continues to plan and lead Study Tours part-time.  He is 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 is a founding member of 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!

  • Connor Froyen Harron
    Connor Froyen Harron Study Tour and Bike Northwest Director

    Connor is the Study Tour Director and his primary responsibility is to promote, organize, administer and lead Study Tours and Bike Northwest Tours.  Raised on a homestead in the foothills of the Olympic Mountains in Washington State, he has spent much of his adult life living and working with farmers and rural communities around the world. He holds a PhD and MA in Social Ecology from the University of California-Irvine (UCI) and a BA in Psychology and Environmental Studies from Western Washington University (WWU). His experiences participating in study abroad programs at WWU led him while in graduate school to develop and lead Global Service Scholar programs for undergraduate students in Mexico and in Paraguay. Previously Connor was the Farm to Table Manager and Lead Food Science Instructor for a sustainability education center in Costa Rica, served as the International Liaison at the Blum Center for Poverty Alleviation at UCI, and led international research projects in Uganda, Swaziland, Mexico and Costa Rica. After nearly a decade away, he is excited to be back with his family and friends in the Pacific Northwest! In his spare time Connor is an avid cook and home brewer who practices mindfulness for self-care and loves to bike, hike, ski or paddle with his friends in any of the countless natural gems the PNW has to offer.

  • Emma Kivlin
    Emma Kivlin Program Coordinator

    Emma is a Program Coordinator for International Exchange Programs. She is responsible for marketing, promotional materials, graphic design, training plan development, and J1 report collection. Emma holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Public Relations from Western Washington University and has over two years of experience working with Western’s Education Abroad department. As an undergraduate, she participated in a study abroad program to Dublin, Ireland and advocates for affordable exchange programs. In her free time, Emma loves reading, hiking with friends, and trying new cafes around Bellingham.

  • Jacob Weegar-Rudick
    Jacob Weegar-Rudick Program Assistant

    Jacob is Assistant to the Exchange Visitor Program, Study Tours and Bike Northwest.  While growing up in the hills of West Virginia, he was given a lifechanging opportunity to travel abroad to Kenya and Tanzania as a fourteen-year-old. This trip sparked a desire to travel the world and learn other ways of living, leading him to pursue an undergrad degree in International Studies at West Virginia University. He participated in a study tour to Peru where he learned how tourism impacted community development and the environment. He later went on to complete the Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture program through Viva Farms. In his free time, he spends time hiking, working on his hobby farm, and exploring the local food scene in the Pacific Northwest.

  • Sarah Pearson
    Sarah Pearson Executive Director

    Sarah is the Executive Director and oversees all Experience International Programs, Human Resources and Finances. She focuses on strategic planning, program development, and quality control; and is the liaison to the U.S. Department of State for EI’s J1 Exchange Visitor program. Sarah has been with EI for six years and possesses a lifelong passion for exploring the cultures, religions, histories and politics of the worlds’ nations. She was an exchange student in Indonesia, did marine research in Belize and Cape Cod, and taught high school science through the Peace Corps in Samoa. Directly before joining EI, Sarah was Associate Director of the Running Start Program at Whatcom Community College and oversaw academic advising and orientation. Sarah has two young adult children and loves to run, hike, travel, study world news, and spend time outdoors in any way she can.

  • Sophie Hingtgen
    Sophie Hingtgen Program Coordinator

    Sophie is a Program Coordinator for International Exchange Programs. She is responsible for the overall coordination of the J1 Exchange Visitor Program which includes the intake, screening, and orientation of J1 Exchange Visitors and Hosts. Sophie is a University of Washington graduate and did a year of study-abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland. She enjoyed all the traveling she got to do while abroad, and is an advocate for international exchange and learning opportunities. In her free time, Sophie can be found hiking with her dog in the mountains, camping, painting and cooking.

Board Members

  • Geof Morgan
    Geof Morgan Board Secretary

    Geof was raised in Connecticut and spent 15 years in Nashville and Bellingham as a commercial singer, songwriter, and performer. In 1990, he transitioned to working in social services as a grant writer, volunteer services coordinator for an HIV/AIDS foundation, and the director of an early learning center.  From 1993-2015 he was the director of a nonprofit focused on building community capacity to support children and families in Whatcom County.  Geof currently consults part time as a facilitator and trainer for local agencies, schools, and community coalitions. His daughter is a clinical social worker in Brooklyn and his wife is a retired public school teacher. He has been on four study tours with Experience International since 2010, providing musical support and he is committed to EI’s mission of global understanding, social justice and cultural exchange.

  • David Gross
    David Gross Board President

    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 Treasurer

    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 Vice-President

    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 now 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. Our address is 1111 W Holly Street, Suite H, Bellingham, WA. 98225.