Veterinary technician student spends spring break serving

Student Life

When Kailyn Ripp of Waunakee, Wis. joined a group of Madison College students headed south for spring break they weren’t bound for the beach. These students spent their time fixing fences, gardening and working with animals at the Heifer International ranch in Perryville, Ark.

Kailyn Ripp hugs a baby goat.

Heifer International brings sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. The 1,200-acre ranch is filled with gardens and animals including goats, pigs and cows. The students learned about food production and food waste.

“By 2050, there will be 9 billion people living on earth,” Ripp said. “We won’t have enough farmland to produce enough food for them. We need to educate people on how to use what we have more efficiently.”

A heifer is a young female cow who has not given birth. HI provides different animals to families around the world, all with the ability to produce food and create business opportunities to support local economies and create regional development.

Member of a local dairy farm family, Ripp loves cows and understands their economic potential. She participated in FFA at Waunakee High School and entered the Madison College Veterinary Technician program after graduating. Ripp will complete her associate degree in May 2017. She plans to transfer to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville to earn a bachelor’s degree in animal science.

“Kailyn’s trips to Heifer International expanded her horizon and her knowledge of agriculture to a more global perspective of food, world food distribution and production as well as sustainability of our planet,” said Dr. Clarissa Sheldon, Madison College Veterinary Technician instructor and faculty leader for the spring break trip.

The students learn about world hunger and poverty while at the ranch. In addition to chores, they also spend time in a Global Village to see how people in other cultures experience shortages of food and participate in team building exercises.

“We were only allowed to bring a flashlight and a sleeping bag to the Global Village,” Ripp said. Food resources are distributed among the student groups representing communities in Guatemala, Thailand, Zambia and Appalachia. Some students shared their food, others withheld it. The exercise provided a lesson in the benefits of pooling resources and was Ripp’s favorite activity during the week.

She also enjoyed meeting students from Texas, Florida and Michigan who stayed at the ranch and participated in the activities that week.

Her trips to HI allowed Ripp to practice things she has learned on the family farm and through her studies at Madison College. The experience caused her to be more aware of food waste and ways to reduce it.