For nearly two decades, Lakeland has helped make the densely populated, economically deprived country of Malawi, Africa, a better place for its people.
Since 1999, 75 Malawians have earned undergraduate or graduate degrees in education from Lakeland. Those men and women have then returned to their native country and positively impacted thousands of countrymen and women.
Earlier this summer, Lakeland University sent four students and four faculty members to Malawi, where they worked with Malawi native, Lakeland grad and Master of Business Administration student Patrick Tembwe on the most significant collaboration yet – installing an aquaponics farm that will yield edible fish and fresh vegetables for years to come.
“The project was beset with challenges from the beginning, starting with the complexities of shipping a large container across the world and culminating with the frequent power outages that rendered the group’s electric tools useless,” said Scott Niederjohn, the dean of LU’s School of Business & Entrepreneurship.
“The team of faculty and students persevered through each challenge toward the goal of providing a reliable source of nutritious fish and vegetables to people that, quite literally, require it for survival.”
Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (the growing of plants without soil) that raises fish and plants together in one integrated system. The fish waste provides an organic food source for the plants, and the plants naturally filter the water back to the fish.
Representing Lakeland during this 10-day project were LU undergraduate students Ashley Calkins, Amelia Dodgson-Liosatos, Tiffany Fischer and Emily Scherer; and faculty members Brian Frink (dean of the School of Science, Technology & Education); Britanni Meinnert (instructor of hospitality management); Niederjohn; and Paul Pickhardt (associate professor of biology).
Thanks to the generosity of 1973 Lakeland graduate Mike Brunmeier, a well and water tower that will supply water to the aquaponics farm and a local orphanage and village were established on the property.
The group, including Tembwe, learned about aquaponics by working at Lake Orchard Aquaponics in Sheboygan County prior to flying to Africa.
While in Malawi, the LU contingent also attended the dedication of a well that was built thanks to fundraising efforts of a service group from Kohler, Wis., called “Girls Reaching Out.”