BHP students Sam Garcia, Nelson Chen and William Herbst joined up with BBA student Tom Jackson to form an innovative new student organization called the Sustainable Dairy Goat Initiative earlier this year to address poverty problems in the colonias of the Rio Grande Valley.
Garcia, who is from the Valley, came up with the idea after learning more about the concept of microfinancing to assist those in poverty, and using agriculture to overcome barriers to entry, during a class he took while studying abroad in Argentina. He was recently recognized for the initiative, receiving the University Unions Pal-Make A Difference Award.
Garcia raised goats growing up and had spent time in the colonias during mission trips, where he witnessed the extreme poverty first-hand. He put the two experiences together and realized that providing those families with goats could be a great form of microfinancing and could have a really positive impact on families in the area. He recruited his McCombs School friends and started the organization.
This past winter the group donated the first six goats to two families. “Most of the people in colonias are first generation Hispanics of undocumented immigrants and many have experience working with farm animals,” said Garcia. “These families are using the goats to provide for their family and sell products made from the goats.”
The organization is currently working on becoming a non-profit and securing their 501c3 status. They are focused on raising donations from various sources to expand the initiative. Their goal is to provide 10 families with three goats each next winter. These families will be encouraged to form a dairy cooperative to sell their products and share business expenses.
The group is excited about the future of the initiative and pleased with the support they have received so far, which includes a house resolution filed by State Representative Bobby Guerra, a partnership with La Union del Pueblo Unido (LUPE) of Hidalgo County, raising $600 through a campus-wide event, and securing numerous donations for the initiative.
To learn more about the initiative or become a member of the organization, visit the Sustainable Dairy Goat Initiative website.