The State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill is joining a coalition of SUNY campuses and not-for-profit organizations to develop a sustainable village and learning community in the town of Akayè, Haiti. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation awarded SUNY a nearly $800,000 grant to develop educational, economic, and social programs, resources, and on 40 acres of land donated by a Nassau Community College professor emeritus.
SUNY Cobleskill faculty members will contribute their expertise in agriculture, fisheries, water resources, and environmental protection, among other fields. Professor John Foster (fisheries & aquaculture), Assistant Professor Andrew Gascho Landis (environmental conservation, plant life), and Assistant Professor Kim Tarvis (livestock, animal science) traveled to Haiti September 24 to begin an initial, weeklong needs assessment.
“We are incredibly proud to work with our partners in the SUNY system and beyond to pioneer sustainable solutions in Haiti,” said SUNY Cobleskill President Marion A. Terenzio, PhD. “This project promises lasting benefits for the people of Akayè, for SUNY Cobleskill students, and for the development of sustainable communities around the globe. It is a brilliant example of what can be achieved when SUNY campuses collaborate as a system.”
“SUNY Cobleskill was invited to join this initiative because of our strong and very broad agricultural experience,” said SUNY Cobleskill Executive Director of International Education Susan Jagendorf-Sobierajski. “For any kind of sustainability in Haiti, people need a way to harness the resources that are indigenous and make them productive. Because of our strong applied-learning focus, we’re perfectly poised to work with Haitians to make that happen.”
“Chairman McCall, Kellogg Foundation President Montgomery Tabron, and I recently had an opportunity to travel to Haiti to survey the land where the SUNY village will be developed and, more importantly, to hear first-hand from the people of Akayè about how our colleges and organizations can support the health, wellbeing, and successful development of their community,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. “SUNY’s capacity to serve communities throughout New York State and around the globe knows no bounds. Thank you to each of our campuses, which will each provide distinct expertise to the project, to our partnering organizations, and to the Kellogg Foundation. This project will provide immeasurable opportunity for those in Haiti as well as the students, faculty, staff participating from across SUNY.”
The long-term initiative will involve multiple trips over the coming years. After the planning period, students will become involved through internships and service learning opportunities. SUNY Cobleskill joins nine other SUNY campuses and five not-for-profit organizations working on the project. The campuses include University at Albany (international development for management), Binghamton University (public administration), University at Buffalo (social work), Buffalo State College (performing arts), SUNY-ESF (landscape architecture), Nassau Community College (nursing), SUNY New Paltz (disaster mental health), Stony Brook University (health sciences), and Upstate Medical University (public health).
The five not-for-profit partners include African Methodist Episcopal Church Service and Development Agency (AME-SADA), Effort Commun Pour Le Developpement de L’Arcahaie (ECODA), Haiti Development Institute, Hope on a String, and YouthBuild International.