Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships program funds UPEI community engagement, research, and development project in Kenya

Posted: 
Monday, March 26, 2018
Two UPEI nutrition students (Catherine Williams and Kira Stratton) talking to children after they received their uji (porridge) at a Kenyan school

The Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships (QES) program recently announced the successful recipients of its phase-three funding. Among them is an exciting project led by the University of Prince Edward Island. The project, “Integrating Innovative Research & Training for Improved Sustainable Livelihoods in a Smallholder Dairy Farming Region—phase 2”, aims to develop Canadian and Kenyan students into global citizens through enriching courses, community engagement, research, and development projects in Canada and Kenya, and to provide training and resources to enhance sustainability and food security of the poor rural Buuri region of Kenya.

The project is co-led by Dr. John VanLeeuwen, a professor of epidemiology and ruminant health management at UPEI’s Atlantic Veterinary College, and Dr. Colleen Walton, an assistant professor in UPEI’s department of Applied Human Sciences. Other UPEI faculty involved in writing the proposal were Dr. Jennifer Taylor and Charlene VanLeeuwen of Applied Human Sciences, and Dr. Shawn McKenna and Dr. Luke Heider of AVC’s Farm Service group.

“We are in the final year of our first four-year QES project, which has achieved all of its milestones to date, and it is a pleasure (and a relief) to secure four more years of QES funding through this new project,” said Dr. VanLeeuwen. “The new QES project builds on what the partners have accomplished together in the first phase, which appears to have been well-received by the funders. It has been a great team effort.”

“I am so excited that we have this opportunity through the QE Scholars program to continue and expand international community-based research and learning opportunities for our foods and nutrition students,” said Dr. Walton. “Students return from these experiences as changed people with global awareness and capacities they only dreamed of, and we have seen significant improvements in the capacity of our partners in rural Kenya.”

The project team includes a Canadian partner, Farmers Helping Farmers (FHF—a PEI-based NGO with 35 years of experience in Kenya), and three Kenyan partners, the Buuri Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society (made up of more than 1600 dairy farmer members), the University of Nairobi, and Kenyatta University.

A UPEI vet student (Terra Macdonald) examining a cow in Kenya,  with the family watching

The project will see three graduate students from Kenya and 13 undergraduate students from UPEI working together in Canada and Kenya to train Buuri dairy farmers to:

  • conduct research projects;
  • train Buuri smallholder dairy farmers on best management practices in dairy health management broadly, and infectious disease control, particularly bovine viral diarrhea virus  infections and S. aureus udder infections;
  • train Buuri primary school students, staff, and parents (along with the women’s groups to which mothers belong) on how to use FHF-supported enhanced gardens and school cookhouses to grow and prepare nutrient dense foods to improve nutritional quality of school and family meals; and
  • participate in community engagement and networking activities and cross-cultural, academic, and professional experiences related to nutrition and veterinary  medicine with schools and service groups in Kenya and Canada (and QES networks) to enhance their cultural awareness and improve their research, communication and leadership skills as global citizens.

The project has a number of desired positive outcomes, including the development of Canadian and Kenyan students into new global citizens and leaders with increased veterinary and nutrition knowledge and leadership skills and expanded cross-cultural networks. The team will make substantial contributions to Canadian and Kenyan rural communities in terms of training, resources, and experiences, and will help improve health management and productivity on Buuri dairy farms, and enhance school/community nutrition and food security in Buuri.

The project will be funded with $300,000 from the QES, with another $472,200 in contributions from UPEI and its partners.

The Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships aim to activate a dynamic community of young global leaders across Canada and the world to create lasting impacts both at home and abroad through cross-cultural exchanges encompassing international education, discovery and inquiry, and professional experiences.

Established in 1986, the Atlantic Veterinary College is committed to improving the health and welfare of animals and humans through education, research, and service. The College is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, and is recognized by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in the United Kingdom. AVC is recognized globally for its innovative research and expertise in animal health and welfare, veterinary epidemiology, comparative biomedical sciences, clinical medicine, infectious disease, and public health.

The University of Prince Edward Island prides itself on people, excellence, and impact and is committed to assisting students reach their full potential in both the classroom and community. With roots stemming from two founding institutions—Prince of Wales College and Saint Dunstan’s University—UPEI has a reputation for academic excellence, research innovation, and creating positive impacts locally, nationally, and internationally. UPEI is the only degree granting institution in the province and is proud to be a key contributor to the growth and prosperity of Prince Edward Island.

Dave Atkinson
Research Communications Officer
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