Faculty visits Brazil to learn about green ranching

When Jeffrey Geider wanted to learn more about environmental conservation, he went deep in the heart of the Amazon.

Last month, the Institute of Ranch Management sent two of its faculty members, Geider and Kerry Cornelius, as well as associate provost of academic affairs Bonnie Melhart, to Brazil to visit with TCU alumni John and Kika Carter to learn about ranching practices that stress environmental conservation.

The Carters, both Ranch Management program graduates, created the Alianca da Terra, an organization that promotes conservation practices among ranchers in Brazil, to help reverse or stop deforestation of the rainforest, Geider said.

The Alianca de Terra, which means “the land alliance,” uses simple principles of proper land usage, such as adequate livestock to land ratio, that could easily be adopted by North Texas ranchers to decrease erosion and increase freshwater for ranching use, Geider said.

Geider said the trio went with the intent of having cultural and educational exchanges. Not limited to just studies in Ranch Management, Melhart said she went to explore opportunities in international studies and research for students in Brazil, as well as internships for graduate students in any field.

The trip was also used to scout Brazil as a possible location for TCU’s global academy, a program which gives students the opportunity to have interdisciplinary studies pertaining to a specific subject in a foreign country, Melhart said.

Conservation of land and water is a common goal between ranching in North Texas and Brazil, Geider said. He said there are hopes for future exchanges between the Institute of Ranch Management and Alianca da Terra.

The trio was accompanied partially on its trip by an NBC camera crew, Geider said, which was documenting a separate story in the Amazon at the time. The group visited with several local ranchers, as well as with indigenous tribes who have had little contact with the outside world, he said.

Geider said there are plans for future international field studies, with the goal being at least one per year.