A new organization on campus is ‘passing on the gift’

Mizzou for Heifer International is a young organization on campus that was founded by Sarah Anthony on May 30, 2012. It is part of a nonprofit, humanitarian organization called Heifer International that is working to end hunger and poverty in the world. Heifer International pursues their mission by providing resources such as livestock, seeds, trees and training to families and communities around the world. The organization provides training in animal well-being and environmentally sound agriculture, and is working in more than 50 countries, including the United States.

“This gives us a chance to educate people about what is going on in these underdeveloped countries that we are working to help,” Adam Gerke, the vice president of the organization, said.

Heifer International follows a unique community development model known as “passing on the gift.” Recipients of the organization agree to pass on one or more of their animals’ offspring, or the equivalent, to another family in need. This approach has helped 13.6 million families in more than 125 countries improve their quality of life.

More than 308,340 families were assisted last year with gifts of animals, training and passing on the gift. In addition, members of 453,260 families received special training that included sustainable farming techniques. Another 870,260 families received significant benefits from Heifer International indirectly.

Recipients are provided with abundant information about using these gifts to the fullest and rally support with the idea that donations can help others help themselves.

People around the world who wish to support the cause can donate to the organization in several ways. Rather than donating money for the general fund, people can actually mark what animal or other gift they would like the organization to purchase with the donation money. Donors can also decide how much of each resource, such as a particular animal, they would like the organization to purchase with the money and are provided with the price of each resource. The Friend of Heifer program allows people to sign up for a pledge of $10 a month. Signing up for employer matching can double donations.

When Gerke spoke with Heifer representatives, they told him that “the animals come from all over and they are bred to fit standards of quality set by Heifer.” According to the organizations website, “in most cases, local breeds of animals are selected for the project and the selection is made from good quality stock that is found in the area.”

Heifer International works with local and global partners, coalitions and constituencies, urban and rural farmers and communities to influence and change policies, systems and practices to bring about positive changes in agriculture and community development. The priority areas for their advocacy team are local food systems and food sovereignty, gender equity, and agro-ecological strategies and livestock based on livelihoods in the context of climate change.

The organization believes that “it is crucial to educate the public about hunger, poverty and the sustainable solutions to these global issues. Education leads to awareness, understanding and inspiration. Inspired people take action.”

Helping students around the country start chapters in their community is part of this continuing effort to lead and learn.

“This year we have set a money raising goal,” Gerke said. “We are trying to send a gift called ‘Joy to the World’ and the money we raise will go to send this gift, which includes many different types of animals.”

Students involved at MU are seeking the help of their fellow students to grow this organization on campus. The goal is not only to help raise funds for efforts around the globe, but also to inform students and public about hunger, poverty and their ability to provide a solution.

“We have been working hard on our own, setting up events and fundraisers to get the name out and to raise money for our goal to sent the gift,” Gerke said.

If you would like to donate to Mizzou for Heifer International you can find contact information on their Facebook page. To join the organization, attend one of their meetings, which are held every other Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Physics Building, room 102.

Addition information about Heifer International:

The list of resources and benefits from these gifts provided goes beyond this basic list:

  • Heifers can produce a calf every year and up to four gallons of milk a day
  • Llamas and alpacas supply wool and carry small loads
  • Goats can produce up to one gallon of milk a day and give birth to twins or triplets
  • Trees hold moisture in the air while curbing erosion
  • Honey Bees supply beeswax and honey, while their pollination process improves crop yields
  • Chickens can supply up to 200 eggs a year

Their programming for learning about hunger and sustainable solutions includes:

  • Heifer Learning Centers and Global Villages, which give visitor a first-hand experience of Heifer’s work.
  • Global Education lesson plans for educators that are tied to national education standards.
  • Service Learning programs that teach the importance of being an active global citizen while giving back.
  • Professional Development opportunities that help educators energize their students about making a positive change in the world.
  • Study Tours that immerse participants in the countries, cultures and lives of project participants.

By Halli Bruton
Corner Post Staff Writer