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Sustainable Farming Inspires Sociology Major

Inspired after reading Michael Pollan’s Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education, Sam Beecher, who graduated December 2012, believes a career working outside to make a difference is worth pursuing.

During the Interterm between the fall and spring semesters of his junior year, Beecher helped with a nonprofit community garden in Arizona. He saw firsthand the benefits of 10,000 pounds of fresh produce being donated to local residents.

"Working with food is a very real thing," the sociology major said. "I would enjoy working on a not-for-profit farm, growing sustainable food that is healthy for a community. I saw a documentary about farming being the perfect work for human beings emotionally, intelligently and overall a good bond, because you're caring for the plants that nourish you."

During a study abroad semester his sophomore year, he joined Students for Environmental Action in New Zealand, where he became intrigued during his daily walks by a farmer's market. Every Saturday he visited with the farmers.

"I would see an abundance of fruits and vegetables at the roadside farm stands," he recalled. I told myself I was going to come home and get a job on a farm."

That is when he discovered Rob Lominska's Hoyland Farm in Douglas County, where he volunteered. Lominska, a former Peace Corps volunteer and teacher, started farming full time in the mid-1970s, growing vegetables organically and reconnecting with the earth.

Promoting Sustainability Globally

Beecher is combining his love of travel and interest in sustainable farming during his two-year Peace Corp assignment in Zambia. "Joining the Peace Corps has been a lifelong goal," said Beecher, who is working with the agriculture and forestry program in Zambia.

"I am so blessed with the assignment because it matches me with my interests," said Beecher. "I get to implement sustainable farming techniques. My job is to encourage farmers to plant perennial trees and shrubs that will provide not only fruit but help with soil fertility, structure, stop soil erosion and increase food security."

Beecher reported to Zambia in February 2013 and will return to the United States in May 2015. He plans to attend graduate school, focusing on the environment, sociology and public administration in rural development.

"I hope to thread agriculture and education," he said. "The Peace Corps should provide a foundation for those studies."