By Nathan Hosler
Last week the Heifer Project International board gathered in Little Rock, Ark. Though I have been representing the Church of the Brethren on this board for two years, this was the first time I met fellow board members and most of the staff. In addition to physically meeting board members and staff, who I’ve been with for many hours of Zoom, I met the new CEO, Surita Sandosham. Having joined the board only 20 days earlier, Sandosham was still in intense listening mode.
Heifer has grown both in size and complexity since Dan West began the work over 75 years ago. As such, the work of a new CEO requires vision as well as understanding an organization that spans many countries and regions with hundreds of staff. Sandosham discussed her appreciation of the 12 cornerstones and engaged the board in dynamic discussions of strategy, board development, and our core work of addressing food insecurity by working with small-holder farmers.
Please pray… For the work of Heifer International.
Much of our time was spent on the Heifer Ranch. Initially purchased in 1971 as a gathering location for cattle to be sent abroad, the ranch spent the next decades as a public education center with the “global village” expanding understanding and working to engage youth in the work of addressing hunger. However, as participation in this program waned, Heifer transitioned the ranch to focus on regenerative agriculture and education and programs to support small-holder farmers throughout the United States. While visiting, the board got a break from indoor discussion and PowerPoint presentations to see this work up close. We climbed into a hay wagon to ride out into the pastures and see the work firsthand. Focusing on simple, easy-to-replicate techniques and technology, the ranch is becoming a leading force in rebuilding depleted land and strengthening communities through healthy soil and food.
Heifer continues to use the catalogue I grew up with to raise awareness and funds. It continues to innovate and expand the central of idea of “passing on the gift.” While staying true to core ideas and values, it has grown and transformed. Global disruptions of war, the pandemic, and in the climate make the work of addressing food insecurity vital. I look forward to continuing to work with Heifer International to address this critical issue and invite you to do the same. I am grateful for the work of our church family over the years and pray that we will not falter.
— Nathan Hosler is director of the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy.
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