Saturday, June 06, 2009

Heifer opens education center

Heifer International has opened an education center in Little Rock, Arkansas. The center will be used to show the public how important farming and livestock raising is to the battle against poverty.

From the Arkansas Democrat and Gazette, reporter Samantha Friedman attended the opening ceremony.

Exotic animals - water buffalo, alpacas, yaks and others - were among the main attractions Friday at the opening of Heifer International's $13.5 million educational facility.

The charity, with headquarters in Little Rock, opened Heifer Village with a morning dedication ceremony. The animals were representative of the 29 types of livestock, plants and trees Heifer has given to millions of families around the world through its "passing on the gift" tradition of teaching people to become self-sufficient.

"We're all about animals, and the purpose is to let people see the kind of animals that we use in the field," Heifer spokesman Ray White said. "One of the things about hunger and poverty and understanding these issues is a lot of times, people aren't familiar with animal agriculture, and the closest they've ever been to a cow is the meat counter at the grocery store."

A crowd of 2,500 to 3,000 is expected for events this weekend, White said.

The 16,000-square-foot Heifer Village at 1 World Ave. is also known as the Polly Murphy & Christoph Keller Jr. Education Center in honor of its largest donor, the Keller family. Keller Enterprises donated $3.5 million toward the project.

Polly Winter of Alexandria, La., whose maiden name is Murphy, and her late husband, the Right Rev. Christoph Keller Jr., discovered Heifer's strategy of alleviating hunger in 1968, when they were invited to visit the Heifer Ranch in Perryville, she said. Winter and 15 family members representing four generations attended the dedication.

"Heifer saw early on that sustaining farming and animal husbandry would require treating the land with respect and using its resources right," Winter told guests. She said that Heifer's encouragement of sharing resources, protecting the planet and training others to do the same mirror the Kellers' priorities.

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