Underserved Areas Grant Winner! (Part 1)

Check out the reflection piece below of one of the two of the winners from the Public Health and Community Outreach Committee's Underserved Areas Grant! The other selected piece will be featured tomorrow!


By Trey Cook, NCSU:

I had the privilege and the honor of journeying to Limuru, a small town outside of Nairobi, Kenya, over spring break in March this year. Those eight days in country turned out to be one of the most amazing highlights of second year and presumably, my time as a vet student. Along with several of my NC State peers and under the leadership of seasoned bovine veterinarian and mentor, Dr. Sam Galphin, I experienced a culture, worked with some beautiful animals, and left behind a gift that will continue to impact the community long after our return home.


But first, who did we go to support? I recently developed a relationship with a small Christian organization called Freedom Global based out of Durham, NC. Their mission is to impact the world through education, employment, and discipleship. They have a merit-based boarding high school for girls, Uhuru Academy, in Limuru which is the main focus of all their operations. Many of the 64 girls at the school would otherwise not have access to a high school education due to inadequate family finances, difficult family situations for many of them, or simply lack of proximity. Freedom Global works to find sponsors for many of the students and is consistently putting these girls in very competitive positions to receive government funding for college education. Freedom Global started a dairy farm about three years ago in an attempt to build a more sustainable local source of income for Uhuru Academy. They choose to employ workers who are part of yet another growing underserved population in Kenya, the internally displaced refugee.


Our mission was to assess the Freedom Global farm, consult with leadership, provide training for the staff, and involve the Uhuru Academy girls at every opportunity. The first several days were spent observing, analyzing, note taking, and relationship-building. We had priceless opportunities to work alongside the milkers, getting to know them and their beloved cows (who answered to their names when called in for milking). We studied feeding and watering habits, milking protocol, movement and organization of the animals, and delved into the idiosyncrasies of the farm. Our veterinary group separated into various teams, each focusing on various aspects of the dairy operation (milking, nutrition, housing, etc.). I led the nutrition team, a discipline I am immensely interested in yet find quite challenging. We were able to take some of Dr. Galphin’s feed analysis and translate them into multiple grain total mixed rations (TMRs) implementing measuring methods used on the farm (aka a sawed-off carton for a scoop). We left them with recipes (in bags and scoops) for mixing their own TMRs for the various groups of cows as well as instructions on how many “scoops” to give cows milking at various levels.


We pregnancy checked their cows to establish a baseline, set up several of the open cows for artificial insemination later in the week, then inseminated about 10 by the end of the week. We performed California Mastitis Tests, Brucella and Tuberculosis testing, analysis of feed rations, and even a castration on an unlucky bull. A local Kenyan veterinarian was on hand for much of our work which legitimized our tests while giving us the opportunity to learn a bit about life as a vet in Kenya. He is hoping to start a dairy operation upon his impending retirement, so he enjoyed learning throughout the week with the Freedom Global staff.


Each night, we gathered as a team, traded notes, and discussed suggestions to be made and how to go about making said suggestions in culturally appropriate and relevant ways. We were constantly adding to various Standard Operating Procedures to leave with the farm as well as material for the training we performed at week’s end. It was exciting to see how eager the staff was to improve their skills and procedures and how quickly things moved as we made small suggestions along the way.


Our big training day was immensely rewarding for each of us. It represented the culmination of several 10-14 hour days and some late nights of group work, and the workers jumped on board with our many but usually minor suggestions (for example, splitting grain feedings into morning and evening rather than all at once).


Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of the process was our ability to involve many of the girls from the school. Early in the week, we were able to speak to all of them at the school and explain who we were and why we were there. On several evenings, a few girls joined us for dinner which allowed us to delve more deeply into their dreams and share our passion for veterinary medicine on a more personal level. Then mid-week, about 18 of them participating in  the agriculture course offered at the school came out to visit us at the farm. We gave them a tour and each of our teams walked the girls through the various challenges they observed and communicated the solutions they found. All of us were able to share lunch in the grass afterwards and speak more specifically about veterinary medicine, the importance of involvement in agriculture, and answer questions. The girls are dreaming big! It was such a joy to witness the hope the girls displayed flowing from their relationship with Jesus and the life-altering educational opportunity the academy is providing them.

I am happy to report that the Freedom Global cows had their highest month of milking since the start of the farm in May, and it seems that much of our training and many of our adjustments have taken hold. I will definitely continue my relationship with Freedom Global, and I hope to return to the farm in Limuru as well. They are making huge strides but will continue to transition as they begin to learn about raising their own replacements and finding ways to improve the genetics in their herd. This trip had a massive impact on me, inspiring me with fresh vision for how my skills might be used to positively impact the underserved both in my own country and on other continents. Thank you for the opportunity to share this phenomenal experience with you.


Tuesday Memes

These memes were submitted by Tatiana DiMugno from UC Davis and feature her pup, Rivka!


Sunshine and Snow

Summer on the Amalfi Coast

Is It Summer Yet?These two beautiful photographs were submitted by Megan Westerhold from Kansas State University. I wish I could be on the Amalfi Coast right now!


We've All Definitely Done This!

This meme and the following comic were submitted by Katelyn Guill-Sanchez from Kansas State University. I hope they brighten up your Sunday evening!


A Thoughtful Tribute

This watercolor painting and digital painting were made by Sarah Myers from Kansas State University. She made these to commemorate her classmate's cat named Athena who recently passed away. How thoughtful!

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