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Foreign interns work at Country Gardens; Chorna, Rogava learn about flowers, trees and other plants that may not grow in their native countries

Chris Olson / The Sun Maryna Chorna, left, from Ukraine, Gretchen Barnick, center, Country Gardens Floral and Greenhouse owner, and Salome Rogava, from the country of Georgia, have been working together since mid-May. Barnick worked with the Communicating for Agriculture Education Program to hire the two women to work as interns at her business through the end of September.

Maryna Chorna is from Ukraine, while Salome Rogava is from Georgia.

“The country, not the state,” Rogava said.

Both women are interns at Country Gardens Floral and Greenhouse in Jamestown, helping owner Gretchen Barnick by working at the business. The women benefit by working in a foreign country and learning about flowers, trees, shrubs and other plants that may not grow in their native countries. The women are also meeting new people, experiencing different cultures and will take all they’ve learned back home with them.

Chorna said she works for a horticultural company in western Ukraine.

“I want to get new experience(s) in (the) greenhouse,” she said. “I want to meet new people — friendly people like Gretchen.”

Barnick said she found Chorna and Rogava through the Communicating for Agriculture Education Program, which is offered through the Communicating for America nonprofit organization. CAEP works with farmers, ranchers and small-business owners who are looking for interns and workers from foreign countries who want to gain experience working in the agricultural industry in the U.S.

Barnick said she learned about CAEP from other people in the Jamestown area who had used the program and had a positive experience.

“The girls are here on a J-1 visa, which is usually good for one year,” Barnick said.

Both women will be working at Country Gardens through the end of September. Chorna started working in early May and Rogava started in mid-May.

Rogava said after she is done working here she will spend some time in New York City and would like to go to Washington, D.C. and visit the White House.

Barnick said she wanted to try CAEP because she has had trouble finding qualified people to work on a seasonal schedule. She said working with CAEP officials to find the right people was a positive experience.

“It was very easy to work with this organization,” she said.

Barnick said filling out the paperwork took some time, but once that was done the CAEP people were available to answer questions and were able to find her two ideal candidates for her intern positions.

“They are very good workers,” Barnick said about Chorna and Rogava.

The two women have goals they have to meet as part of their training program or for goals they set for themselves by participating in CAEP. Barnick said she and one of her part-time employees have a checklist for Chorna and Rogava, goals that each woman set for herself.

“We want to make sure they’re meeting their goals and learning what they came here to learn,” she said.

Rogava said she is an agronomist and has a bachelor’s degree from a university in Georgia. Her family has a farm back home, and she wants to open her own greenhouse for growing flowers.

“I’ve studied a lot for my profession,” she said. “I came here to study flowers and shrubs. I want to further my education.”

Chorna and Rogava both said Americans are friendly people.

“People here are friendly, they always smile, they (are) like … sunshine,” Chorna said, trying to describe what Americans are like.

Rogava said she agreed that there are lots of smiles in America, which is different than back in Georgia.

“People back home are more serious, (they) don’t smile as much,” she said.

The two women have taken part in seminars in Minneapolis and attended local events, including the Stutsman County Fair and James River Rodeo. Barnick said they will also attend the picnic and street dance at the Frontier Village on Aug. 9 that is part of the celebration of North Dakota’s 125th anniversary of statehood.

Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454