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If you were to travel to Honduras, you might find yourself staring up at the massive trunk of a La Ceiba tree. At 5 story tall, the La Ceiba tree’s trunk can be as big around as some of the one room homes commonly found in the area. The tree’s telephone-pole thick roots stretch out in all directions and erupt through the ground in some places, lifting the earth around it to form natural mounds and walkways.
A group of Virginia Tech students looked upon a La Ceiba tree in Honduras this March. Although they came from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, they were all students who had declared a new minor, part of that minor’s inaugural class. The minor was Civic Agriculture and Food Systems, and the professor behind it was Susan Clark. These students were studying the role that sustainable food systems have in ending hunger and poverty and keeping a society healthy. They traveled to Honduras to see Heifer’s projects dealing with food sovereignty in that country. These students are on their way to growing 5 stories tall and developing earth altering roots. The seeds for this experience were planted and germinated during trips to Heifer International Ranch and participation in Heifer U and Alternative Spring Break programs. At Purdue University, a visit from a Heifer volunteer to an animal science class sparked students to form a Heifer Club on campus, now one of the biggest and most active in the country. A phone conversation between a Heifer staff member and a Geography professor at the University of Alaska-Anchorage has blossomed into what that professor calls a “saturation” of Heifer on campus, complete with a club, integration into classes, and service learning components in the community. All of these relationships- all of this fruit- is the result of a seed planted with care and hope. But a crop without a farmer isn’t much of a crop at all. We’ve found that professors of Geography, Animal Science, Nutrition, Psychology, Political Science, Philosophy, and History can make great farmers.
Heifer U for College and University Faculty and Staff will be taking place at Heifer Ranch on May 19-22 for faculty and administrators who are willing to be the cultivators of Heifer growth on their campuses. Heifer U is a four-day, three-night immersion in the process of seed sowing- and the reasons the world needs new growth. There is no charge for this program. We’ll provide the “seeds” at this program; your campus is the fertile ground on which you will sow them. You will have a chance to hear from more experienced faculty members and learn all about Heifer’s development model and how to use it within your classroom. If you are interested in getting Heifer onto your campus, but you aren’t sure where to start, please apply now.
Help us plant the seeds of social action and conscientious citizenship.