Originally published on January 8, 2018.
In 2014, Gary Geisler, a calf and heifer specialist with Purina Animal Nutrition, a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O’Lakes, Inc., completed a volunteer assignment in Lebanon to educate farmers on calf raising management. Geisler volunteered through the Farmer-to-Farmer Program in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Managed by Land O’Lakes International Development and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer program enables U.S. citizens to volunteer in developing and transitional countries to promote sustainable improvements in food security and agricultural processing, production, and marketing.
Gary Geisler examines a refractometer.
Geisler has completed six volunteer assignments through the Farmer-to-Farmer program, the two most recent in Lebanon. “The reward I feel, knowing my time and expertise has made a lasting and life-changing impact on another agriculture community, is very satisfying,” says Geisler. “It’s why I sign up and encourage others to volunteer. The Farmer-to-Farmer program makes it easy to connect with those in need.”
The program fulfills requests from farmers and farm organizations in developing areas that are looking for technical expertise to help them improve efficiency and profitability. In this case, the request came from LebanVet, the go-to resource for veterinary and farm management knowledge in Lebanon. The group needed a calf raising consultant to help identify causes of diarrhea in calves and to develop feeding and management strategies to help farmers raise healthier calves.
During his volunteer assignment with LebanVet, Geisler trained staff and evaluated more than 22 farms to make recommendations on individual calf programs. He introduced the region to digital refractometers for checking colostrum quality and monitoring blood serum total protein. He also demonstrated calf and heifer growth benchmarking using the Penn State Growth Charts.
“At Land O’Lakes, we believe our unique insights as a farmer-owned cooperative enables us to play a meaningful role in spurring economic development, growing agricultural markets and, ultimately, moving people out of poverty,” says Dean Smith, program director, Farmer-to-Farmer, Middle East and Northern Africa. Since 1981, Land O’Lakes International Development has led more than 280 programs and training initiatives in 80 countries.
Anyone with agricultural knowledge who wants to help improve the lives of farming families, agribusinesses and communities in developing countries is encouraged to volunteer through the Farmer-to-Farmer program. To learn more about volunteer opportunities go to: www.idd.landolakes.com
Purina Animal Nutrition LLC (www.purinamills.com) is a national organization serving producers, animal owners and their families through more than 4,700 local cooperatives, independent dealers and other large retailers throughout the United States. Driven by an uncompromising commitment to animal excellence, Purina Animal Nutrition is an industry-leading innovator offering a valued portfolio of complete feeds, supplements, premixes, ingredients and specialty technologies for the livestock and lifestyle animal markets. Headquartered in Shoreview, Minn., Purina Animal Nutrition LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O’Lakes, Inc.