April 12th, 2016


JA continued two key experiential learning opportunities this year…both related to Heifer International, but designed differently for each age group. Lower School students raised money to help purchase animals to benefit impoverished families around the world. In Middle School, sixth graders visited Heifer Village in Arkansas for an overnight experience that reenacts what life is like living in poverty.

Lower School Gives 38 Animals…from Heifers to Honeybees

The Lower School has supported Heifer International for several years. “Three years ago, we moved it to coincide with Easter and started asking the students to earn the money that they donate rather than just asking their parents for money,” said Lower School Dean Sarah Love. “Throughout the fundraising period, the teachers show videos about Heifer, and I read them stories about the families who have been helped as well as information about the ways that the different animals are used to help families. Each grade sets a goal to raise enough money to buy certain animals that Heifer gives to the families.”

Students earned money to purchase the animals by doing chores for their families or neighbors, selling lemonade or cookies, or even bringing money from their own savings. Each grade created a display where the students used cutout paper animals to write about the work they did to earn money.

The students donated $5,079.52! They were able to buy 38 animals, from heifers to honeybees. “We are so proud of their hard work and their generous hearts for families around the world!” said Sarah Love.

Sixth Graders Face What Poverty Feels Like

Sixth graders traveled to Heifer Village for an experiential learning field trip. Students and chaperones were assigned to an impoverished village representing a part of the world supported by Heifer International. They stayed overnight, having to function with the resources they would have if truly living in that village. They experienced firsthand a lack of food and resources coupled with the necessity of sharing and working together for survival.

Faculty member and chaperone Audrey Wilkirson was impressed by the reactions of students. “They are so willing to try new things,” said Wilkirson. “At Heifer Village, they are put in groups not of their own choosing. Even for adults, this is something that can be difficult, particularly when you are also in an unfamiliar situation. We believe these challenges are good learning experiences that help students adjust to a variety situations where interaction with others and cooperation are critical to success.”

The JA Heifer Village trip is in its second year. Nic Henderson, coordinator of the character-building and experiential program, Soar, believes that word has gotten around JA about the value of the Heifer Village trip. This year there were only a couple of questions raised in advance. Also, sixth grade teachers provide information to students before the trip and reinforce lessons learned with classroom activities after the trip.

For a look at this story in detail, see the coverage of JA’s Heifer Village trip in the Clarion-Ledger.