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Have a cow, man; students donate $1,500 to Heifer Project

Residents in several villages around the world will be a little better off thanks to the generosity of several students at Rosemount Middle School.

The students took two weeks recently to raise money for something called the Heifer Project, an international organization that provides cows, llamas, water buffalo and other animals to villages in developing countries. RMS students donated $1,500 to the program.

Villages use the animals for the goods they produce or for labor in the fields. They are required to pass offspring on to other villages in the area.

"It's a way to empower people in developing countries to be more successful," said RMS teacher Joann Trygestad. "We know that there are remarkable results for the project."

RMS eighth graders studied developing countries earlier this year. Students learned about why some countries are rich while others are poor, and they decided they wanted to do something to help. When Trygestad gave them an opportunity to raise money for a cause, they gravitated toward the Heifer Project.

RMS students have donated to the program in the past but Trygestad said this is the most money the school has ever raised for it.

Eighth grader Michaela Kaye is a big part of the project's success. As one of the students in charge of Heifer Project efforts it was her job to sell the fund-raising effort to her classmates. She read announcements over the school's public address system each morning and she talked to students about the project.

Helping others comes naturally to Kaye. Her aunt and uncle are missionaries, and she's grown up doing charity work.

"I'm a very out there person," she said. "I like that feeling where you know you did something good."

Still, there were challenges.

"It was interesting getting eighth graders to donate their own money," Kaye said.

In the end, Kaye got her classmates to chip in $750 out of their own pockets. A member of the RMS student council, she got the rest of the council to match that.

Then came the fun part. The Heifer Project sent RMS a catalog and Kaye got to choose the animals the school's money would buy.

"We got a heifer, a goat, a sheep. We got two flocks of geese and ducks," she said. "We got a llama.... Llamas are so cool."