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Local Nonprofit Accepts New Business Plan from Grace College Agribusiness Students

Thursday, March 21

Students in Tobias Forshtay’s agricultural finance class at Grace College turned an assignment to solve an agricultural financial problem into an opportunity to create a new revenue stream for a local nonprofit.  A team of five agribusiness students recently wowed Humanity & Hope United Foundation with their plan to create a sustainable cattle operation to assist underserved people groups in rural Honduras.

Humanity & Hope empowers people to overcome challenges and become their best selves through access to clean water, shelter, education, and jobs.  While the organization has experienced much success partnering with villages throughout Honduras to bring sustainable change to its people, funding the projects necessary to realize this change is a continual challenge.

Enter Grace College agribusiness students Corey Eppelmann, Hannah Klaiber, Kendall Lovejoy, Sam Miller, and Zach Schori.

“We decided to create a plan for a high-quality, sustainable cattle operation at The Grand Farm in La Coroza, Honduras,” explained student Sam Miller.

The farm, which currently includes grain and livestock divisions, is run by Humanity & Hope in partnership with local villagers in La Coroza.  By adding a cattle enterprise to the farm, new jobs and income will be created for the people of La Coroza, while local restaurants and families will have access to nutritionally dense, delicious beef.

“The operation will establish a self-sustaining cattle herd, fed with crops grown on the farm.  As the cattle grow, steers will be slaughtered for beef and conditioned heifers will be used for breeding.  We will use genetics technology to produce high-quality and high-performance cattle which will give The Grand Farm a distinct competitive advantage and generate substantial income,” explained Miller.

In late February, the team of students presented their business plan to Humanity & Hope consultants and local farmers Roger Smoker and Jerry Yeiter.

“The students did a wonderful job applying Humanity and Hope’s mission and vision to the cattle plan,” Smoker said.  “They actually applied each of the six Humanity and Hope pillars — infrastructure, economy, community, health, education, and leadership — to their plan, which was very impressive.  They also did a great job working that plan into day-to-day income and cost analysis, really laying the financial groundwork for a successful operation.”

The students are now preparing for a full board meeting with Humanity & Hope as they move closer to making the cattle operation a reality at The Grand Farm.

“When we were working on this project, I thought it would be something we just turned in and that would be the end of it.  But that’s obviously not what happened,” said Miller.  “It’s incredibly rewarding to have our plan accepted by Humanity & Hope and moving toward implementation.  I’m not only excited for what this could mean for the people of La Coroza, but the country as a whole.”

The students’ vision is for The Grand Farm to first become efficient and profitable, and then share their agricultural knowledge with other villages and replicate their success.  “It’s really exciting to think about the benefits that cattle farming could bring to the people of Honduras,” said Miller.

Grace Agricultural Business Program Director Tobias Forshtay commented, “I am incredibly proud of these students for stepping up, fueled by a desire to help others, and putting their skills to work for a local organization.  It gives me joy to see their project done so well.”

The agricultural business major at Grace College has grown rapidly since its founding in 2017.  The program, which was designed to help meet the needs of Indiana’s agricultural economy and the world’s growing need for efficient farming, trains students to become Christ-like leaders in the agricultural industry.    For more information or to apply, visitwww.grace.edu/agribusiness.