It Takes a Global Village at Heifer International

Posted: February 3, 2009

Many wouldn’t think of a farm as a hot spot for an internship. But that’s exactly where environmental studies major Page May ’10 spent this past summer, some 40 miles from Mount Holyoke in Rutland, Massachusetts. With funding from MHC's Center for the Environment, she worked as an educational facilitator for the nonprofit organization Heifer International, at its Overlook Farm learning center.

Heifer International is dedicated to relieving global hunger and poverty through education programs and by providing crops and livestock to disadvantaged families around the world. Overlook Farm is a full-functioning farm, complete with livestock and a two-acre garden. It includes a Global Village, which replicates about a dozen different kinds of homes and living conditions in areas where Heifer International works. Such simulated conditions include a trailer home typical of low-income Appalachian towns, a yurt like those in Tibet, and a Thai home made of bamboo. Each house has crops and livestock appropriate for its region and lifestyle.

According to May, roughly 20,000 visitors come to the farm every year for trips lasting between a few hours and several days. “I really enjoyed teaching and inspiring kids, especially on important issues such as poverty and sustainable agriculture,” said May, who is active in MHC’s Environmental Action Coalition. “As each group left, I felt I had actually made a contribution to the movement to end poverty.”

“Mount Holyoke has greatly impacted the way I view the world, by inspiring critical thinking and self-confidence,” May added. “Given the level of responsibility expected in the job, particularly regarding the amount of information to be learned and then facilitated, both of these traits were required.”

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