At Rio Tinto Kennecott, we have a long history of actively partnering with local community groups on projects that bring long-term mutual benefit, align with our business and support education. So we jumped at the opportunity to participate in the development of the East African Refugee Goat project.
Introduced last fall, the project was created to provide employment/career path opportunities and educational support programs for Burundian, Somali Bajuni and Somali Bantu communities in Salt Lake City.
A mutually beneficial need sparked the idea for the program. Goats thrive on noxious weeds that most companies have to control through the use of chemicals that have the potential to get into waterways. Grazing goats provide landowners with an efficient way to control weeds and provide the animals with the proper diet and nutrition. Caring for the goats and herding them to and from various locations for grazing also provides employment opportunities for refugees.
Profits earned through land management services will be invested in projects that support local East African refugee youth through after-school programs and to pay the refugees who manage the herd.
This spring, the herd had its first kidding, and KUTV2 reporter Dan Rascone came out to meet the new additions and their herdsman.
"I'm proud to support this project because it demonstrates how our commitment to sustainable development and willingness to collaborate can bring significant benefits to community groups," said John Birkinshaw, Kennecott's Principle Advisor for Asset Management and project board member. "This project is unique and has all the right parts to be a long-term benefit to these East African refugee groups."
We are providing a permanent habitat on 40 acres of land. Additionally, the Eccles Foundation, the International Rescue Committee, Levan Ridge Farm and the Utah State University Cooperative Extension in partnership with the Utah Department of Workforce Services have also teamed to support the community project.