Thank you to all of our supporters in the December Open Challenge!
With your support, we were able to fully fund our project and surpass our original project goal of $17,000 with a grand total of $35,600. Here is a quick look at how we raised more than double our goal:
1) Through the incredible generosity of our donors and our Facebook fans, we finished in second place in the December Open Challenge and earned a $2,300 bonus, which helped us secure a total of $35,600, more than double our goal!
2) With these extra funds we will be able to supply room and board for five, not just one sustainability leader! Given the fact that close to 80 percent of young leaders are from families with very limited or no resources, this support will go a long way to ensure that their needs at met EARTH.
3) All gifts received to our GlobalGiving project will be combined to provide assistance to EARTH students and educational programs. The $35,600 total goal was funded through the following areas of support:
- $228 to help support the purchase of school supplies.
- $665 to help support community development programs that allow our students share knowledge and acquire knowledge to improve the lives of those living in communities near the EARTH campus.
- $1,932 to help support the purchase of animals for the Integrated Farm where students will learn humane practices in animal science.
- $2,175 that will allow EARTH to train 21 local famers in sustainable agricultural practices to help them improve their crop yield and raise the economic viability of their family farms in an environmentally responsible manner.
- $5,300 to help fund ten student entrepreneurial projects. These projects help students learn the skills needed to run their own businesses after graduation and allow them to return to their home countries as job creators instead of job seekers.
- $23,000 to help fund room and board support of these deserving young leaders.
Given the economic conditions and all the needs that currently exist in all communities, we are incredibly grateful for your belief in our mission and your support of this project. We would like to leave you with a story of one of our alumni, who is making a difference in the life of her family, her community and her country. Your support will enable us to support many more Mónica's in the future.
Mónica Lozano Luque, Class of 1999, Colombia
Before graduating from high school, Mónica knew that she wanted to study agronomy and after hearing a presentation about EARTH she “fell in love with its educational system and its commitment to people and the environment.”
Mónica’s time at EARTH enriched her life in many ways. “EARTH gave me the tools I needed to be able to achieve my goals,” she says, while adding that the opportunity also reaffirmed the values she learned from her family, such as respect and honesty. “I am thankful for having learned that in order to be successful in life, you need to develop yourself holistically and that the further you get, the humbler you should be.”
Mónica believes that the leadership education she received has been her key to success both professionally and personally. “During my four years at EARTH, they gave us hooks to fish, and thanks to this, I have been able to easily adapt to the different work situations and still meet objectives.”
Upon graduation, Mónica returned to her family farm where she convinced her father of the benefits of organic agriculture. Shortly after transitioning the farm, Mónica received an opportunity to work for the private company Valle del Cauca, leading a new project creating organic compost produced from the company’s fruit residuals. With the organic waste produced by the company, the team she led produced 1,000 tons of compost per month, which was then returned to the fields as organic compost. With this project, she was able to demonstrate that using organic waste is not only possible, but also good business, and when she finished the project, the company recognized her as a pioneer in clean agriculture.
Following this experience, Mónica worked for the Colombian government in the Agricultural Ministry, where she helped develop the supply chain norms and procedures for organic agriculture, as well as the agricultural best practices that form part of Colombia’s National Program for Clean Agriculture.
In 2005, Mónica decided to return to her family business, Lozano Lugue Investments, which grows, transforms and commercializes organically-certified agricultural products under the brand name Lo-Sano. There, she is responsible for technical aspects of the farm’s crop and livestock production, applying what she learned at EARTH every day in the areas of planting, nutrition and sanitary management, harvest and post-harvest management and product transformation. The company employs eight people year-round and contracts an additional 20 for during harvest season. They are the only organic soursop farm in the country and have secured an important niche in the local market, selling their products in the country’s major supermarkets. They recently began producing and marketing fresh gherkins under the Lo-Sano brand and Monica hopes to be able to secure credit in the near future in order to further diversify their organic production.
Mónica feels that she is contributing to her country because at Valle del Cauca, with the Ministry and now in her family business, she is recognized as a leader in clean farming in Colombia. “I have been able to help many people believe in organic agriculture and farm in a healthier way,” she concludes.