Sept. 9, 2004 Haitian agriculture student Raynald Sime is a sponge soaking up knowledge on every topic he can while he visits the U.S. Virgin Islands.
"I checked into what you feed chickens here. I'm interested in what to do about ring spot disease in papaya," he said.
Sime, 26, a third-year student at the American University of the Caribbean in Haiti, spent three weeks on St. Thomas and is now on St. Croix, taking in all the information he can so he can share it with others back in his country.
Through Sept. 18, Raynold is being hosted by Dr. Robert Godfrey, associate professor and research and assistant director of the Agricultural Experiment Station on the University of the Virgin Island's St. Croix campus.
"He is spending time with the animal science program at AES to see the animal management practices that we use for our hair sheep flock as well as any research projects we have going on," Godfrey said. "During his time here we will be weaning lambs in the flock, deworming and vaccinating. We will also take him to the Senepol farms where we are doing some studies on evaluating temperament of the cattle," Godfrey said.
On St. Thomas he assisted Dr. Bethany Bradford, veterinarian for the V.I. Agriculture Department in the St. Thomas-St. John district.
"He helped me tag animals and deworm goats and assisted in surgeries," she said.
He also did plant grafting and nursery work at the V.I. Agriculture station, worked with small animals at the Imperial Animal Hospital, learned about flowering and landscaping plants at Bryan's Plants, visited local farms and spent time at the abattoir learning about meat inspection, Bradford said.
"Lack of trees is a big problem in Haiti. Raynald was very impressed with how green St. Thomas is, how many trees we have. He wants to take back ideas on fighting soil erosion and growing, planting and saving trees," she said.
Sime will also be going back to Haiti with any publications on tropical agriculture he wants from UVI's collection, Godfrey said.
"I see this experience as a benefit to Raynold because he gets to see livestock production practices that would have direct application to Haiti due to the similar climate and conditions," Godfrey said.
Sime's visit is a joint effort among the V.I. Agriculture Department, University of the Virgin Islands and the American University of the Caribbean, where Dr. Paul Rudenberg is dean and also coordinator for the local Heifer Project International. The visit grew out of a project last November donating local sheep and goats to Haiti's HPI program.
Bradford conceived that project, pitched it to HPI and worked with Godfrey to make it happen.
Bradford along with St. Thomas farmers Arthur Harthman, Buddy Henneman, Eugene Peters and Sinclair Hamm each donated animals. Godfrey donated five UVI sheep. The 12 animals flew to Haiti via a donated Coastal Air flight and were given to farmer associations in Haiti.
While Sime's career goal is to teach college agriculture courses, he is also interested in young people. He started the Children's Relief and Care Service in Haiti, which offers education, health care and clothing to orphaned and poverty-stricken children.
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