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News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, manager,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

11-01-04

Contacts:

Catherine Woteki, Dean of Agriculture, (515) 294-2518

Robert Mazur, Sustainable Rural Livelihoods program,
(515) 294-9237 or 294-9286

Rich Bundy, ISU Foundation, (515) 294-9088

Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778

Gifts of $10 million will endow ISU program that helps developing nations

AMES, Iowa -- Gifts totaling $10 million will benefit Iowa State University by supporting a College of Agriculture program that helps developing nations address rural hunger and poverty.

The gifts are from Gerald A. and Karen A. Kolschowsky, Oak Brook, Ill., and the Gerald A. and Karen A. Kolschowsky Foundation, Inc., Aurora, Ill. The gifts were announced Friday at the ISU Foundation Governors luncheon.

The gifts will support the Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (SRL) program. The program fosters collaborations with partners in developing nations to find sustainable solutions that improve the agriculture, nutrition, health and economic opportunities of rural communities.

"The Sustainable Rural Livelihoods program brings together the diverse strengths of our faculty and students. It's a wonderful and effective way to enhance Iowa State's impact on global citizenship. Supporting sustainable livelihoods fulfills a profound need and positively impacts the lives of many people," said Iowa State President Gregory Geoffroy.

Of the $10 million, $2 million is a gift from the Gerald A. and Karen A. Kolschowsky Foundation, Inc. for SRL program operating funds, and $8 million is a gift from Gerald A. and Karen A. Kolschowsky to create the Sustainable Rural Livelihoods endowment.

Jerry Kolschowsky graduated from Iowa State in agribusiness in 1962, and is the retired chairman and co-chief executive officer of OSI Group, LLC, Aurora, Ill. OSI is one of the world's largest providers of processed meat, poultry and related products. Karen is a 1963 graduate of the College of Education at Michigan State University, East Lansing.

"In our travels throughout the world, we have been deeply affected by the poverty we have seen in the developing world. We want to help people help themselves by using a sustainable approach to food production, community development, health and income generation. We believe that under Iowa State's guidance, the vision of sustainable rural livelihoods can become a reality," said the Kolschowskys.

"This remarkable gift will work to bring truly profound changes to people facing difficult futures," said Catherine Woteki, dean of the College of Agriculture. "The Sustainable Rural Livelihoods program will extend Iowa State's land-grant ideal of education and service to a global scale. One of our greatest alumni, George Washington Carver, said that it's simply service that measures success. Through this program, our expertise in collaboration with international partners will be key to success.

"The program also will help us progress toward one of our college's strategic goals, which involves strengthening global partnerships and better preparing our students for working and living in a globally interdependent world," she said.

Established in 2003, the SRL program involves faculty and students from the colleges of agriculture, business, liberal arts and sciences, and family and consumer sciences. They work with partner organizations in developing nations to stimulate and support activities to counter problems that underlie local food shortages, disease and inadequate income. The program also enables student exchanges between Iowa State and universities in developing nations.

"Hunger and poverty are the result of several factors that limit people's ability to meet their most basic needs," said Robert Mazur, associate professor of sociology and director of the SRL program.

"A central element in our approach is working with local people to help carry out their ideas. By listening to them, we learn about successful activities, local resources and innovative ideas-- as well as the challenges they face. We combine community knowledge with faculty and student knowledge to determine where to begin and how to proceed," Mazur said.

At the core of the program is commitment to local sustainability and to avoid creating relationships of dependence, he said.

Uganda is the SRL program's first partner country. The east African nation experiences significant problems of poverty, hunger and malnutrition. According to a 2003 report from the United Nations Development Program, 96 percent of the population lives on less than $2 per day, infant mortality is high (80 per 1,000 births) and 8 percent of adults are infected with HIV/AIDS.

"Uganda is a good partner country. It has committed leaders in various institutions and the economic and political stability needed to help ensure the activities of SRL and its partners will be effective and achieve long-term sustainability," Mazur said.

In January, members of the SRL team participated in an informal planning meeting in the capitol city, Kampala. Plans were made in August to establish partnerships with Makerere University and with Volunteer Efforts for Development Concerns (VEDCO), a national non-governmental organization. VEDCO will be the lead partner in the rural Ugandan communities in which the SRL program works.

The SRL program and its partner organizations are developing the following projects in Uganda:

  • Training rural development extensionists (RDEs) in agricultural production, food processing, storage, marketing and entrepreneurship
  • Integrating nutrition, health and HIV/AIDS into RDEs' training
  • Establishing crop demonstration and experimentation gardens, including innovative structures for livestock rearing
  • Providing tool kits, quality seedlings and livestock (goats, pigs and layer hens) to RDEs for distribution to local communities
  • Conducting customized workshops for disadvantaged groups (e.g., disabled, HIV/AIDS infected persons) on topics ranging from food utilization, nutrition and sanitation to enterprise development (beekeeping, food processing and marketing)

"Our long range goal is to strengthen capabilities of individuals, households and rural communities to achieve sustainable development," Mazur said. "This will enable Iowa State's support for specific projects to decrease over time without adversely impacting the community. We could then support innovative activities in new communities and scale up efforts on a regional basis."

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Dorothy Masinde, SRL program coordinator; and Rukia Khamis,
Volunteer Efforts for Development Concerns, a non-governmental organization
in Uganda

Iowa State University's Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (SRL) program received gifts of $10 million to help developing nations address rural hunger and poverty. Touring a project in Uganda (the program's first partner country) are, from left, Lorna Michael Butler, Henry A. Wallace Endowed Chair for Sustainable Agriculture at ISU; Dorothy Masinde, SRL program coordinator; and Rukia Khamis, Volunteer Efforts for Development Concerns, a non-governmental organization in Uganda.
For a print-quality photo contact News Service at 294-3720

Robert Mazur, program director, and Dorothy Masinde,
program coordinator

Gifts of $10 million will help Iowa State University's Sustainable Rural Livelihoods program tackle rural hunger and poverty in developing nations. Robert Mazur, program director, and Dorothy Masinde, program coordinator, visited Uganda earlier this year to meet with local partner organizations. Uganda is the program's first partner country.

Quick look

Gifts of $10 million from Gerald A. and Karen A. Kolschowsky, and the Gerald A. and Karen A. Kolschowsky Foundation, Inc. will support Iowa State's Sustainable Rural Livelihoods program. The program fosters collaborations with partners in developing nations to find sustainable solutions that improve the agriculture, nutrition, health and economic opportunities of rural communities.

Quote

"In our travels throughout the world, we have been deeply affected by the poverty we have seen in the developing world. We want to help people help themselves by using a sustainable approach to food production, community development, health and income generation. We believe that under Iowa State's guidance, the vision of sustainable rural livelihoods can become a reality."

Gerald A. and Karen A. Kolschowsky