Story by Donna Stokes, World Ark managing editor
Photos and video by Geoff Oliver Bugbee

Heifer International is proud to have a board of directors who invest their expertise, resources, money and time with passion and commitment to further our mission to end hunger and poverty.

Earlier this year, 12 of the 19 directors took that dedication a giant step further—all the way to Nepal—to see the transformation Heifer provides small-farm families for themselves. 

“Being in the field and actually connecting with the people takes our work from being just work of the mind or brain to work of the heart,” said longtime board member Charles Stewart. “It connects those two where we can actually see the impact and results of the work that is being done by our wonderful staff throughout the world.”

The trip also brought new excitement and perspective to the regular meetings, said Don Hammond, board chair, who didn’t make the trip but shared in the excitement generated from those able to go. 

“The board returned from the April meeting in Nepal with a renewed energy for our work and a deep appreciation of the Heifer development model,” Hammond said. First-hand observations in the field reinforced the board’s support of Heifer’s current path to scale up programs to reach even more people in need, he said. 

Arlene Falk Withers, vice chair, said she learned just how vital Heifer’s training in the 12 Cornerstones of Just and Sustainable Development was to the small-scale farmers we serve.

“What was most impactful for me is to see that the work is more about Cornerstones training, which is the foundation for transforming people’s self-confidence, than it is about the animals which are critical for financial impact,” she said. “But it’s really the Cornerstones training that everyone in the villages spoke about being most meaningful to them.”

President and CEO Pierre Ferrari agreed the experience was invaluable for board members and executive staff on the trip.

“We saw in real time that our values-based model, combined with the quality production and training to connect to markets, is the way to scale impact and get far more people out of poverty,” Ferrari said. “We were also amazed at the incredible work the Nepal staff is doing, innovating in meaningful ways to connect community development and market success.”