Finnish GSE (Group Study Exchange) Team Visit!

During the last week of May from the 27th through the 31st, our Rotary club was honored and excited to have with us a Rotary GSE team from FInland! GSE stands for "Group Study Exchange", which is not unlike a "Student Exchange", where a group from our country goes to tour another country, and their country sends a group here. We introduce them to what might be exciting or unique about our area, and also our culture.

While here in Star Valley, separately or in groups, they toured the Star Valley Independent Newspaper company, toured the unique Freeedom Arms gun manufacturing company, took samples for the Conservation District, toured the Elk Grounds of the Forest Service, toured the Aviat Aircraft company, toured the Star Valley Medical Center, toured the Evergreen Farm (organically-grown vegetables and organically-raised stock), hikked to the world's largest Intermittent Spring, assisted with a "prom" for handicapped individuals at Lincoln Self reliance, saw our beautiful valley, and ate LOTS of home-made Western American food (we really shovelled it into them!), including Buffalo Burgers!

We will try to gve you a brief synopsis of each day or event, with pictures, but these pages will probably continue growing for some time, so bookmark this page and keep coming back to see additions. We will also ask the GSE team for comments we can post. In each paragraph, we will try to have a link to a picture gallery of that day/event, which you can also see by cicking on the picture to the side.

May 27th:
The team arrived and had dinner at Dee's house. Dinner consisted of Buffalo Burgers with all the "fixins", including potatoe and macaroni salads, and desserts made by our members. The GSE Team Leader, xxx, gave us a presentation and a talk of life in Finland. The information was enlightening to our club, and the pictures were beautiful. Most exciting things? That Finland is not as mountainous as we thought, that it is similar to our area, that Nokia is in Finland, the "many-days-of-dark-and-light" periods, and, of course, that Santa Claus lives there during his "off season"!!!! [ We found a web site about it: ]

May 28th:
After breakfast..

May 29th:
After breakfast, the Finns met at the Aviat Aircraft Company and toured the plant. Aviat makes unique planes, one being a single-wing Husky and another being a dual-wing aerobatic Pitts. See the Aviat picture gallery here. Most exciting thing? We all found out that the planes' wings are covered mostly with a treated fabric and not aluminum!

We then hustled them to the Star Valley Medical Center, where they had lunch, and toured the hospital. Pictures can be seen here. Most exciting thing? The Star Valley Care Center, which is for elderly people that can't care for themsleves, has a great many of services not found at similar facilities, and a large group of caring staff that make the residents feel like they're at home!

We then went down to the small town of Smoot, at the Southern end of the valley, and toured Evergreen Farm. Shain and Tara Saberon showed and told us how to grow vegetables organically - no pesticides or processed fertilizer, how to manage crops in such a short growing season. They use techniques including, but not limited to: composting with a medium containing animal manures and plant residues, proper organic manuring, cover cropping, crop rotation, management intensive grazing, and no/low till growing. Some of the team even got to try to milk a goat!
The Finns also received a gift of farm-fresh eggs and goat's cheese for their next breakfast.

May 29th:
After breakfast, the GSE group met at the Intermittent Spring. This is the largest one in the world, and is sometimes called a "cold-water geyser". As the water fills up an underground cavern, it is then pushed up through its avenue to the surface. When it expels the water, it stops, and the cavern fills up again. picture gallery available. You can read more about it here.
After lunch at Subway (do they have them in Finland?!?) the group visited the Star Valley Chocolate Factory and had dessert and coffee.
Then ...

May 30th:

You can lear more about the Rotary GSE Program on this page of the Rotary International web site.