2007.04.02: April 2, 2007: Headlines: COS - Honduras: Forestry: NGO's: Service: COS - Panama: UNH The New Hampshire: Panama RPCV Florence Reed's Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) plants their two millionth tree

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Panama: Peace Corps Panama : The Peace Corps in Panama: 2007.04.02: April 2, 2007: Headlines: COS - Honduras: Forestry: NGO's: Service: COS - Panama: UNH The New Hampshire: Panama RPCV Florence Reed's Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) plants their two millionth tree

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Panama RPCV Florence Reed's Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) plants their two millionth tree

Panama RPCV Florence Reed's Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) plants their two millionth tree

After graduating from UNH with a B.S. in Environmental Conservation and International Affairs, Reed joined the Peace Corps and lived in Panama from 1991 to 1993, planting trees and working on reforestation projects. "The Peace Corps forces you to figure out what needs to be done," said Reed. She explained that her experiences at UNH and her time in the Peace Corps inspired her to begin her nonprofit organization.

Ten years ago, when she was living in her parent's house, Reed got the idea to create Sustainable Harvest International. However, she had no money and no means to do so. She needed a miracle, and she got it that day. An old friend from Switzerland unexpectedly called from overseas and donated $6,000 for her to work with. "If you have a dream to make a positive change in the world, the universe will conspire to make it happen," said Reed. "Don't feel like you can't do it. Surprising things will happen." Because of her friend's generosity and her parents' donation of the spare bedroom for an office, Reed was able to found SHI in May 1997.

The mission of SHI is to work toward environmental, economic and social sustainability. Trained local staff in Belize, Panama, Nicaragua and Honduras work with farmers by teaching them more sustainable methods to use in farming their land. Not only will these methods increase their output, but they will help to grow more varied crops, improving locals' diets. SHI also works with communities by creating loan funds for those who may need to borrow money. Volunteers help in local schools, aiding teachers in the classroom or interacting with students. They have helped families build wood-sustainable stoves that burn longer and create very little smoke, which pollutes homes and causes lung cancer in many people each year. "We have a very charitable mission," said Reed.


Panama RPCV Florence Reed's Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) plants their two millionth tree

Alumna sows seeds of change

Becky Keys

Issue date: 4/3/07 Section: News

Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) planted their two millionth tree recently, according to founder and president Florence Reed.

Reed, a UNH graduate, came back to New Hampshire to visit and speak to students about her experiences at UNH and how they helped her begin her own non-profit organization.

"I was really a better activist than a student," said Reed, chuckling. While at UNH she campaigned with others to help save the rainforests, which was the environmental crisis of the time, similar to today's issues of global warming. She organized buses to protests and brought speakers to UNH to spread awareness about the problem.

Reed was a member of the Progressive Student Network at UNH and was an activist for SHARPP, participating in a sit-in on the Dean's office following a rape incident that the University tried to cover up. The sit-in gained widespread media coverage and resulted in several arrests of UNH students. Reed admitted to being arrested for activism in the past.

"Yeah, I've been arrested before," she said nonchalantly. "But if it's for a good cause, I don't think people will ever really care." She smiled at the 26 students and faculty in attendance.

After graduating from UNH with a B.S. in Environmental Conservation and International Affairs, Reed joined the Peace Corps and lived in Panama from 1991 to 1993, planting trees and working on reforestation projects.

"The Peace Corps forces you to figure out what needs to be done," said Reed. She explained that her experiences at UNH and her time in the Peace Corps inspired her to begin her nonprofit organization.

Ten years ago, when she was living in her parent's house, Reed got the idea to create Sustainable Harvest International. However, she had no money and no means to do so. She needed a miracle, and she got it that day. An old friend from Switzerland unexpectedly called from overseas and donated $6,000 for her to work with.

"If you have a dream to make a positive change in the world, the universe will conspire to make it happen," said Reed. "Don't feel like you can't do it. Surprising things will happen."

Because of her friend's generosity and her parents' donation of the spare bedroom for an office, Reed was able to found SHI in May 1997.

The mission of SHI is to work toward environmental, economic and social sustainability. Trained local staff in Belize, Panama, Nicaragua and Honduras work with farmers by teaching them more sustainable methods to use in farming their land. Not only will these methods increase their output, but they will help to grow more varied crops, improving locals' diets.

SHI also works with communities by creating loan funds for those who may need to borrow money. Volunteers help in local schools, aiding teachers in the classroom or interacting with students. They have helped families build wood-sustainable stoves that burn longer and create very little smoke, which pollutes homes and causes lung cancer in many people each year. "We have a very charitable mission," said Reed.

S�nke Dornblut, a professor in the Thompson School for Applied Science, attended the discussion. He believes Reed is an exceptional model for what it means to get involved.

"I am especially glad that she expressed how much of her success is due to a collaborative effort. Too often we talk about leaders on a pedestal . . . [Reed] understands that people need to work as a team to get things done," said Dornblut.

Reed explained that the farmers in Central America have guided SHI to where it is today. They currently work with 90 Central American communities and over 900 families. There are 30 Central American staff and six full-time staff working in the U.S., spreading the word about SHI and recruiting volunteers nationwide.

Sophomore Laura Fay listened intently to what Reed had to say about starting her own organization.

"It's so inspiring to hear what she has done with her life . . . I'm glad to see that people are following through with what they have done at UNH," said Fay. "It makes me want to do something that will change people's lives, like she does every day."

Reed encouraged students to participate in volunteer work or find internships if they were interested in non-profit careers.

Jen Ramsay, the Coordinator for Student Leadership at UNH, enthusiastically responded to Reed's encouragement.

"I love it when an alum comes back to share their stories," Ramsay said. "It's so interesting to hear about their UNH experiences, what brought them to where they are today."

When asked what Reed likes to do in her spare time, she paused to think, and her eyes lit up.

"Free time? What free time?" She explained that for the first six years of SHI's establishment she was working most of the time, saying she had "no life." However, 10 months ago she had her first child.

"I only work 40 hours a week now that I have a baby," she said. "My husband is very supportive of my work schedule."

The family is currently building their own eco-friendly, fossil fuel-free home in southern Maine.




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: April, 2007; Peace Corps Honduras; Directory of Honduras RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Honduras RPCVs; Forestry; NGO's; Service; Peace Corps Panama; Directory of Panama RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Panama RPCVs





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Story Source: UNH The New Hampshire

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Honduras; Forestry; NGO's; Service; COS - Panama

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