This article was originally written and published by Land O'Lakes International Development here.
Name: Gary Geisler
Current title/profession: Calf and Heifer Specialist with Purina Animal Nutrition
Name of project: Farmer-to-Farmer Program in Middle East and North Africa
Location of the project: Lebanon
Organization that sent the volunteer: Land O'Lakes International Development
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.
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.