If you are exploring the Little Rock riverfront area, don't miss the opportunity to learn about this building and what it represents. This is the Heifer International Center, and no, it is not a new-fangled auction barn for marketing cattle. However, the association with cattle is partially correct, when you consider that the definition of the word "heifer" means young cow, and one that has not had a calf. I remember back in the 80's, I had a friend who said she was taking leadership development classes at the Heifer Ranch. This friend actually owned livestock, so I just assumed she was referring to classes related to her farm. It wasn't until twenty years later that I learned the true scope of the "Heifer International" organization. My education began in 2002, when I had the opportunity to visit Heifer Ranch, near Perryville, Arkansas. It was there that I learned that Heifer International was an international nonprofit organization. it was started back in the early 1900's as a result of one man's public service during the Spanish Civil War. That man was American farmer, Dan West, whose work as an overseas volunteer, demonstrated to him that simply supplying refugees with a cup of reconstituted milk was not enough to sustain them. These refugees needed their own cow---that is, a heifer cow. Out of that idea, a shipload of cows, accompanied by "seagoing cowboys" left the United States, bound for Puerto Rico, during World War II. Not long after that, Heifer International sent animals, training, and personnel to war-torn Germany and Japan, to help them recover from the devastation caused by fighting in their country. Then after that, Heifer International sent animals, training, and personnel to locations behind the Iron Curtain, in a gesture of peace.
I remember accidentally visiting this very location on a snowy day in December back in 2004, (my son and I were looking for The Flying Fish Restaurant nearby) when there was nothing on this property, except construction materials, chain-link fence, portable trailers, and lots of heavy equipment. I found out during my tour recently, that preparing these grounds took tons and tons of earth moving, because the top layer of dirt had been contaminated by improper disposal of industrial wastes by the former tenants of the property.
Now the grounds are beautifully landscaped, and the rows of holly trees provide a nice frame for the building's water cistern. The cistern is the gray cylinder, enclosed in glass and surrounded by stairwells in this photo.
The building was designed to be L.E.E.D. - platinum- certified, by Little Rock architect, Reese Rowland. (He narrates a fantastic short video on the Heifer website giving more details about this building, that has earned the highest "Green Building" rating available). This photo shows how the rain hitting the roof, is collected into a pipe, that then forms a decorative waterfall, as it cascades down the concrete spillway.
The sunshades built into the design of the building help reduce energy required to maintain a climate controlled interior.
The parking lot of Heifer International was designed with a special surface that lets rainwater trickle down through it, rather than just running off into the adjacent Arkansas River.
This sculpture of a woman with sheep,that graces the ground of the Heifer Village, serves as a reminder that this organization has expanded its original mission of supplying cows, to also supply dairy goats, Boer goats, pigs, water buffalo, fish ponds, bulls, and bee hives. An important part of the Heifer program requires that the recipient of a Heifer gift, "pass it on" to another person in need, whenever their animal has developed offspring.
Heifer Village is a separate building from the headquarters building, and serves as an educational center to show how it is working to end hunger and poverty around the world. This display illustrates how a simple mosquito net can be be effective in reducing the devastation of malaria in developing countries.
This bucket of water lets visitors actually try lifting and carrying a quantity of water, so that they can better understand, what a limiting factor that potable water can be in a community's development.
This colorful learning space invites students to explore solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems. It is an ideal place to take student groups( of all ages!) to expand their horizons beyond the local grocery store.
These Plexiglas containers that compared the grains used in the United States versus the distribution of grains used in other countries. I was reminded of how all that high-fructose corn syrup present in regular sodas (and thousands of other products we consume) accounts for the proportion of corn used in the United States being so much more than that in developing countries.
There is a cafe at Heifer Village that has this airy-looking dining area, with an adjacent outdoor dining patio, as well.
A wonderful gift shop at Heifer Village has gifts made around the world, as well as greeting cards, toys, and some clothing items.
One of the covered patios has this colorful world map painted on the sidewalk, that can be used to teach visitors the location of many of the countries served by Heifer International. The white building in the background is the Clinton Presidential Library.
As we ended our visit to Heifer Village, strolling alongside the recently-created cypress pond, I was once again thankful for those rare individuals who not only read the words of Jesus, but actually DO them! Matthew 25:40 quotes Jesus as saying "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." Heifer International is helping our brothers and sisters around the world, and if you would like to learn more about visiting/touring any of their facilities, log onto http://heifer.org . Find out how helping others can give you "miles of smiles"!! Tricia