Ozarks sociology students attend conference at Heifer Ranch

Release Date: 11/17/2011

On Nov. 11, ten students from Ozarks, members of the Sigma Alpha sociology club and other sociology majors and minors, attended the Arkansas Sociological and Anthropological Association (ASAA) meeting at Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Ark.

The trip marked the first time students from U of O had attended the conference. “We wanted to take students there to get a taste of the professional world in sociology and anthropology,” said Sigma Alpha President Monica Linares. “There were several very interesting presentations. Topics ranged from blaming teachers for the flaws of the educational system, to the Occupy Wall Street movement, alternative economics, and ethnic groups in Japan.”

The conference was held at Heifer Ranch, the site of Heifer International, a global nonprofit whose goals include ending poverty and hunger through education. The group was established in 1944 and gives out gifts of livestock, seeds and trees and extensive training to those in need.

“We were excited to see what the presentations were like, because in the very first one, they covered topics that we had just been discussing in class,” Linares said. “This sort of event is what we’ll be doing in our professional lives later, so just being there and realizing how much we already knew was pretty fantastic.”

Sociology students at Heifer Ranch.

Ozarks sociology students recently attended the Arkansas Sociological and Anthropological Association (ASAA) meeting at Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Ark.

She added that although they were only spectators at this particular conference, the ASAA is planning a follow-up conference for undergraduate students in April at University of Arkansas in Little Rock, and Ozarks has been invited to participate. “Several of us who are seniors are going to present papers here on campus this spring,” Linares said. “Our plan is to go ahead and present them in Little Rock as well.”

The trip had an unexpected outcome. Since it was held at Heifer Ranch, the students toured the facility while there. “We saw their global village,” said Linares, “as well as the animals they share with people around the world. The village is a series of model homes representing the way people live in many different poverty stricken areas of the world.”

Students come to Heifer and participate in overnight programs “in which nothing – shelter, food, water or cooking fuel - can be taken for granted. Participants prepare a meal with limited resources and sleep in simple housing,” to quote the group’s web site.

“It was really interesting,” Linares said. “I am from Central America, and they had a house representing a poor Guatemalan home. It was somewhat shocking to see the reality represented in that way. Actually that house is nice compared to the really poor houses in our country, but at the same time it was cool to see because those houses represent something many people here can’t really understand.”

Linares said the Ozarks psychology and sociology clubs want to collaborate and plan an overnight stay at Heifer in the near future to participate in the program. “They are making a campus outreach,” she said, “so we want to get involved. It is a very important organization, and we’d like to bring a speaker here, or plan an activity here related to Heifer.”

Linares said she’s glad Ozarks participated in the conference. “Although we’re a small chapter,” she said, “I think we represented U of O very well, and it definitely helped create a bond among our group.”