WCAHS and UCD Blum Center Cosponsor Ag Health and Safety Projects in Developing Countries

 Students in Nicaragua making a supplemental nutritional block for cattle. Photo is courtesy of the UC Davis Blum Center.
Students in Nicaragua making a supplemental nutritional block for cattle. Photo is courtesy of the UC Davis Blum Center.

By Andrea Sargis, UC Davis

The Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (WCAHS) is proudly partnering with the UC Davis Blum Center for Developing Economies to help impoverished communities around the world improve their agricultural health and safety. WCAHS (headed by UC Davis COEH director Marc Schenker) and the Blum Center are excited to announce joint funding of six UC Davis undergraduate students and eight UC Davis graduate students to conduct agriculture health and safety related projects this summer both in the United States and abroad in conjunction with a local non-profit or agency.

Michael Kato is performing a wellness exam on an unnamed three month old kitten in Knights Landing Community Center, California. Photo is courtesy of Michael Kato.

Michael Kato is performing a wellness exam on an unnamed three month old kitten in Knights Landing Community Center, California. Photo is courtesy of Michael Kato.

The selected undergraduate projects are located in Latin America. Trent McGowan and Ariel Chavez will work with Engineers Without Borders to improve water quality and catchment in Chirinos, Peru, a small agricultural town that has outgrown its current water supply system. Alex Thornton-Dunwoody will help build a low cost pollen dryer for Colombian beekeepers to improve bee pollen storage. Colombia is one of the highest pollen producing regions in the world, and the project will help beekeepers improve their income and dramatically improve pollen quality. Finally, Tracie Dang, Elspeth Fullerton and Greta Soos will travel to Sabana Grande, Nicaragua, to help reduce malnutrition in cows by developing feed silage. This Nicaraguan community depends on dairy cows as their main source of milk and dairy products, but their cattle’s nutrition suffers due to a lack of crop growth during the dry seasons. The undergraduates will conduct community silage workshops and help build a silage chopper.

Abigail Fosdick in Sabana Grande, Nicaragua, is holding a community workshop on poultry disease. Photo is courtesy of Abigail Fosdick and Laura Budd. Abigail Fosdick in Sabana Grande, Nicaragua, is holding a community workshop on poultry disease. Photo is courtesy of Abigail Fosdick and Laura Budd.

Graduate student projects range from North America to Latin America to Asia. Michael Kato will help establish a “One Health” approach in Knights Landing, California, a predominantly agricultural-based community where many of the residents are migrant, undocumented, poor Latino workers with little access to health care. The One Health approach brings veterinarians and physicians together in one building to improve animal and human health through shared knowledge, while also educating the community about zoonotic disease, animal husbandry, and preventative vaccination.

Jake Pry with the residents of Ulpathgama Village, Sri Lanka, is gathering qualitative data for case-control study. Photo is courtesy of Wendi Jackson.

Jake Pry with the residents of Ulpathgama Village, Sri Lanka, is gathering qualitative data for case-control study. Photo is courtesy of Wendi Jackson.

Lisandra Ochoa and Kayla Carlson will also be taking a One Health approach to community development in Sabana Grande, Nicaragua. Their goal is to assess the health needs of the community and provide education about disease states and preventive health care, especially to the local youth in order to empower the next generation of leaders. Laura Budd, Abigail Fosdick, Samantha Lawton, and Sarah Tirrell will also travel to Sabana Grande, Nicaragua, to help improve poultry egg and meat production by training families on simple and inexpensive interventions to boost poultry output, such as record keeping, night housing, and disease prevention. Lastly, Wendi Jackson and Jake Pry will study the role of pesticides and alcohol consumption in a kidney disease epidemic among the rural poor in Sri Lanka. The epidemic is especially prevalent in farming regions of North Central Region of the county.

These hands-on opportunities allow undergraduate and graduate students to gain fieldwork experience in establishing change to problems that they are passionate about solving. The students, faculty, and outside organizations affiliated with these projects aim to further the WCAHS’ and the Blum Center’s mission of assistance and aid domestically and abroad while training the next generation of leaders through experiential learning in agricultural health and safety.

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