Heifer Romania hosts four Study Tours in 2014

In 2014 Heifer Romania organizes four Study Tours. Three of them have already been developed with students from US universities, Purdue and St. Edward’s. Forth one, which will be held with Elanco employees, is planned for September. The main purpose of these tours is to gain an understanding of Heifer’s approach to assisting communities in rural areas and overcome poverty in a sustainable manner. Heifer Romania team designed the itineraries that would give the participants an in-depth look at the projects in operation, while learning also about Romania's geography, history and culture.


This is the sixth year in a raw when Purdue University students are visiting projects in Hunedoara County. A group of veterinary students coordinated by two professors, Mark Russel and Paul Ebner, participate in a service-learning program. In the first half of their visit, they were accommodated with Heifer farmers and are involved in all daily activities - caring for livestock, milking cows, harvesting forage, exchange information with the householders and so on.


In the second part students are accommodated in a local bed and breakfast facility and were trained about Heifer Romania, small scale agriculture, Europe Union, tourism and veterinary treatments. Within the centralized training, students prepared market studies about milk, meat and honey production. In a concluding seminar students treat these topics with local leaders and entrepreneurs.


In month of May, guest students from the US were guided by seven Romanian students from University of Veterinary Medicine of Timisoara. Together, they spend 10 days in Vata with Heifer beneficiaries. They tested milk quality, check livestock mastitis using California Blue test and investigated the economic impact of the milk, meat and honey production. All visitors were involved in organizing the first Agricultural Fair in Vatra and in the end participated to the celebration.




Professor Mark Russell introduced Abigail Borron, who is an assistant professor of Agricultural Communication in the Department of Youth Development & Agricultural Education at Purdue University to Heifer Romania work. She then traveled to Romania for an exploratory visit in order to see two locations where Heifer Romania projects are implemented and to link the opportunity to engage her students in volunteer work by observing the daily work within the villages and informally visiting with some of the participating families.


Therefore on May 19, we welcomed in Romania seven undergraduate students from Purdue University and their two coordinating teachers, Abigail Borron and Dr. Janet Ayres, professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics. The purpose of this partnership was for the students to participate in a two-week service-learning program with Heifer Romania. They stayed  with Heifer farmers in Rasca (Milk for Orphans project) and then in Belin village (Chance for All project), where students were tasked with testing cow milk quality, developing advertising materials for the two projects, and conducting basic social science research in cultural understanding and engagement. The students were also accommodated in the University of Agricultural Science and Veterinary Medicine campus were they had an university tour which was kindly offered by Dr. Andrei D. Mihalca, the Vice-rector for International Relations.




On May 31, the third group of students arrived. This Study Tour was composed from an international partnership between St. Edward’s University from Austin, Texas, Bothar from Irelad and Heifer Romania. The group was formed from 14 students and their leader Professor John Cotter and his wife Susan Cotter. The itinerary consisted of a whole week spent in beautiful Ireland where the group could see the original farms and farmers from where the heifers are shipped to different locations. And another week, spent in Romania where everyone was able to see the final destinations of heifers sent by Bothar. All participants attend a class at the St. Edward’s University, which focuses on sustainable development. All Heifer Romania projects that were visited by the group - Rasca (Milk for Orphans project), Aschileu village (Revitalization of water buffalo breeding in Aschileu and Mera Villages project) and Dumitrita commune (Empowering Roma Women in Bistrita County project) have a strong component of sustainable development.



On September 15, Heifer Romania will greet six employees from Elanco, a world leader in developing products and services that enhance animal health, wellness and performance. Among the 2,500 employees worldwide, several are graduates from Purdue University. The six employees who benefit from this Study Tour will participate in a learning program about animal welfare, hygiene and nutrition. They will visit the farmers from Bistrita County (Empowering Roma Women in Bistrita County project), Vatra Dornei (Sustainable Agriculture Models In the Romanian Mountain Area project), Aschileu Village (Revitalization of water buffalo breeding in Aschileu and Mera villages project) and Corusu Village (Farmers feed the children project). They will also distribute milk and yogurt to children from a Roma community in the Pata Rât district near the Cluj metropolitan area, where Heifer Romania gives fresh dairy products on a weekly basis.


We are confident that this latter Study Tour will also be a success and the Elanco employees will become, as did the students, a new generation of Heifer supporters.