Fulfilling a Dream – Attending University!

Walter Okullu is Field of Hope’s inaugural Ugandan scholarship recipient. A long-time friend and trainer of Field of Hope, we are beyond excited to witness and encourage his development!

Walter with Mike Hafner, Co-Founder and Executive Director. 

Walter was raised in Aduku of Apac District in Northern Uganda. He was the first-born of seven (all boys but one!), and his family accommodated five other relatives along with both of his parents. In Walter’s words, his family was “God-fearing and church active”. His father is retired from teaching secondary school (high school) and now works in the church and on the farm. Walter said he was younger than most of his cousins, who lived with him, but he was very active with them in football (soccer) and church. He also was fond of scientific innovations.

“Given the extended family together with the little financial resources, it was hard to balance education and other basic needs for the family. But my parents, being so passionate about education, figured out how to ensure everyone studied with the meager resources they earned. This meant all the financial resources went towards education. However, one means that bailed us out was farming. This meant we could have food all year round, and the surplus could be sold to meet other essential needs in the family. This allowed my relatives and me to study all through to the college level. Nevertheless, we would always be involved in garden work during off-school time, even at this young age.”

Walter said that seeing his parents providing for his cousins and relatives gave him “an understanding and appreciation of different people, not necessarily my own blood brothers or sisters…” This gave him a “heart of sharing and the belief that everyone has a right to living a fair life.” This fair life, though, was only made possible through agriculture.  A fair life means having access to food, and food could only be made available through agriculture.

“With farming providing that much support in our family, everyone, including me, came to appreciate that it was at leveled terms with the job my father was doing, since both were a means of living. This made me appreciate and treat agriculture as my bread earner. Every garden work from land preparation to harvesting I was part of.”

Walter invested in agriculture early on. After receiving one hen from his cousin, he multiplied that to 60 hens. He then traded those hens for goats, a profitable business in Uganda. Walter now serves as an agricultural officer for the Dokolo District. He also works for Field of Hope as an agricultural trainer. When asked where his passion for agriculture comes from, he responded:

“I would attribute (my passion) to many factors:

  • First and foremost, God tells us a lot about agriculture in these readings: Proverbs 20:4, Deuteronomy 28:8, 28:12, Genesis 1:11-12.
  • I come from an agricultural background where it is the sole earner for most of the community members, including my family. In fact, my late grandfather was an agricultural officer who instilled that discipline in our family.
  • From my parents: they struggled with us due to the little resources they had. I started appreciating right from a very young age that agriculture is just not for food but a means of living. So many people are not having formal jobs, but from my family experience, I know for as long as one can go into agriculture, he can live a happy life.
  • Nationally, given the fact that there are few extension officers in the country compared to the number of farmers, it makes me feel compelled to bridge this gap of lack of extension services that our rural community cannot access.
  • The change in global peace. There is a lot of war in the world. It is so touching to see children, adults, mothers starving, due to these insecurities, which can’t allow them to farm or have access to food, and yet this is a basic need. I feel indebted to do something about this, but neither do I have the means to go and fight to bring these to an end nor traverse the world to distribute food aid to them. But, hey, I can help increase production and improve the standard of farm products that can contribute to the overall global food requirements that may help cater for the refugees, as well.”

After four years of University, Walter hopes to graduate and elevate from his current employment position. He also said he hopes to “empower the community more, so that they take agriculture as a modest way of life”. He also hopes to increase his own personal agricultural enterprises. He strives to impact the industry by empowering youth and women and encouraging his country to tap their potential. Walter would also like to contribute his voice to policy creation on a government level and work with communities to attract funding for advanced agricultural projects.

Walter leading a training for smallholder farmers through our Women’s Group program. 

“I am deeply indebted to God Almighty and Field of Hope. What Field of Hope is doing is a one-in-a-million chance. Thank you for being considerate to me and the Ugandan community at large. You are such a blessing. I forever will be grateful to you all. I look forward to more unity for this cause, as there are many people who are desperate, not necessarily because they don’t have where to grow crops and keep animals, but because they lack the knowledge on how to utilize God’s gift of natural resources. This is the gap we have to come in and bridge so we can have a happy population.”

Congratulations, Walter! We are so proud of you and look forward to your bright future!

Like the Rains – The Curriculum Cycle

Field of Hope Curriculum Cycle

We have feet on the ground in Uganda! Those feet belong to the Field of Hope and Vivayic teams, including so many people of great talents and knowledge, all of whom we are honored to host!

The team arrived in time to be greeted by the rains. If you haven’t experienced the African rains, there truly is nothing quite like watching the clouds roll over the Nile River, seeing lightening crack across a sky with zero light pollution, and listening to the drops pound on an old tin roof.

Toto had it right to bless the African rains.

Like so many things in nature (and agriculture for that matter), the water cycle is just that — cyclical.

The rains will come.
They will nourish.
They will gather.
They will evaporate, build back up, and come again.

The team in Uganda is both wrapping up the curriculum development cycle and beginning a new cycle just like the rains.

We will come.
We will nourish.
We will gather insight.
We will head back home to build, but we will come again.

This trip has two goals.

  1. Deliver and train teachers on the second year of the Ugandan agriculture lesson plans
  2. Collect content from teachers to begin development of year three’s lesson plans

This week, the team is delivering 482 pages of lesson plans, experience guides, quizzes, essay questions, and supplemental materials designed to equip Ugandan teachers with the resources to teach agriculture through experiential learning. The team is conducting a two-and-a-half-day training that will set these teachers up for success this next school year which begins in one month.

The training marks the end of developing the Senior 2 lesson plans, but also the beginning of developing the Senior 3 lesson plans. Here’s a glimpse into our year-long process.

Template Design — March and April 2017 (one-time process)

  • Lesson Plan Design — Vivayic reviewed the lesson plan design of other Ugandan subjects, then used those examples to develop template options. Four template options were reviewed by native Ugandan teachers and professors as well as Western teachers who had taught in East Africa. The template went through multiple iterations until we determined the layout, icons, and language to be used during the writing phase. The layout has since been reviewed and approved by the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) as it closely mirrors the layout and design of other NCDC materials.

Essential Knowledge — January through June

  • Content Collection — While in Uganda, the Vivayic team collects content from multiple Ugandan teachers and government officials at the NCDC. Usually this means snapping photos of handwritten content the teacher has been using for years. These first-hand sources are critical for our U.S.-based team to ensure that we have cultural context.
  • Crosswalk to the Ugandan Syllabus — Vivayic aligns the content collected to the Ugandan agriculture syllabus then identifies and fills in gaps to ensure all objectives are met.
  • Essential Knowledge Profiles Developed — The team then builds what we call essential knowledge profiles (EKPs). These extensive documents get into the nitty gritty of the content. We aren’t yet focused on how to teach only what to teach. For example, if one of the objectives focuses on the breeds of poultry, then the breeds relevant to Uganda are identified along with breed characteristics, uses, and other information.
  • Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) Review Content — The EKPs are sent to native Ugandan agriculture teachers and trainers for review. They review for gaps, cultural relevancy, and accuracy.

Design and Develop — June through November

  • Write Modules — In June, once the content has been confirmed, Vivayic identifies how best to teach the content through blueprinting and storyboarding the lesson plans. Once we have identified the learning strategy, we begin the writing phase utilizing the entire team to develop 90 lessons.
  • Review and Pilot — Lesson plans go through four rounds of reviews.
    • Two rounds of internal feedback from Vivayic teammates — focused on learning design.
    • One round of feedback from Field of Hope staff, board members, Ugandan teachers and trainers — focused on cultural relevancy and accuracy. During this time, teachers have an opportunity to pilot lessons in their classroom and provide feedback.
    • One round of editorial review — Vivayic’s editor reviews the lesson plans for grammar and consistency using British English and with an eye toward Ugandan cultural norms.
  • Implement Feedback and Deliver — Vivayic implements feedback after each review. Together, Field of Hope and Vivayic package, print, and deliver the curriculum to teachers.

Support Utilization — December and January

  • Train the Trainer — Vivayic and Field of Hope conduct an optional teacher training with the goals of 1) equipping teachers to use an experiential approach to teaching and 2) allowing them to practice delivering the lesson plans.

The rains are welcomed by Ugandans in January, as it is their hottest — and usually driest — month of the year. The dry ground is ready to soak up the precious resource. Our desire is for our curriculum resources to nourish Ugandan agriculturalists as the African rains nourish their crops.


~Written by Whitney Thurmond, Vivayic

Endorf Family – Giving With Grain

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” ~ Matt. 25:40

Raised on a farm in Tobias, Nebraska, Glenn Endorf has led a life of Christ-like service. Meeting his wife, Jan, at synodical school at Concordia University in Seward, NE, the pair went on to teach at the Redeemer Lutheran School in Denver, Colorado, until the Lord called them to return to the family farm and continue the Husker’s tradition of farming.

Christ-like service led Mr. Endorf to contribute financially to others dedicated to loving and serving God’s people –including Field of Hope. Following a conversation with Field of Hope board member Faith Meinzen at a high school reunion, the Endorfs were made aware of Field of Hope and the organization’s involvement with agriculture in both Uganda and India. As Joel Endorf , Glen’s son, said, “Could there be a more fitting organization for a Christian farmer to give? Of course, as a farmer, the most efficient way of giving is to gift grain directly. This allows for more giving and less tax (both self-employment and income tax).”

(Endorf family pictured with Faith Meinzen, far right)

In 2017, the Endorf family donated 1,089 bushels of corn and 1,013 bushels of soybeans, totaling a donation of $13,292.98 to directly impact farmers and children in Uganda and India.

“Jan and I have been blessed by God as teachers, farmers, and parents. We have two children, Jamie and Joel, and they both graduated from Concordia University – Seward. Jamie taught for five years, then went to Peru as a missionary and met her husband, Anthony. Joel and wife Sara lead bible studies and are helping with the accounting for Mission of Christ network.

“We are blessed to see our children live their faith. We were motivated by knowing that (Field of Hope) would see to it that our gift would be used wisely. We feel good when we know what our gift is doing for others.”

Joel agrees. To explain his motivation for giving, he explained, “the God of the universe, from Genesis to Revelation, encourages it A LOT.” He continued:

Giving should be the defining characteristic of who we are as Christians. God is so gracious to allow us to be His hands and feet in the world and share what He gives us. He invites us to share in His mission and His joy. To me, it’s the only natural reaction to God’s love for us and His instruction to us. One of my missions in life is to help others understand the joy of giving and the blessing that comes with being a Child of God. As the statistics show, many Christians are missing out on it–to their own detriment. We could see God do so much with our offering to Him. God can turn fishes and loaves into a meal for 5,000. He can take our grain or money offerings of any size and turn it into something greater for His kingdom. There is no greater joy in the world than seeing God do it.

So how does grain donation work? When producers decide to donate a commodity, they must notify the cooperatives or elevators they work with, and the recipient charity must fill out a W9 and create an account with the cooperative branch. The producer delivers the commodity to the cooperative, the commodity is placed on the charity’s account, and the charity receives the money after they sell the commodity!

Joel Endorf was kind enough to write up this specific “how-to” for those interested in supporting a cause via Grain Donation.

  • To be eligible, you must be a cash basis active farmer. (Crop share landlords CANNOT gift grain. Their shares of crop are considered rental income and MUST be reported as income on their tax return.)
  • By giving grain, the farmer can exclude the sale of the crop from income while deducting the cost of growing the crop. In addition, they will save self-employment tax by reducing income.
  • The farmer must give up “dominion and control” of the crop. This means the charity has to have an account at the elevator and the grain is put in their name in their account. Therefore:
    • The farmer CANNOT sell the grain themselves and order the proceeds to be sent to charity. This is considered a cash donation since the farmer retained control.
    • In addition, the farmer CANNOT provide guidance regarding the sale of the commodity. The charity assumes all risk and storage cost once the grain is delivered to their account and must direct the sale.
  • The transaction must be well-documented, showing that the farmer has transferred ownership to the Charity. This means that at delivery, the warehouse receipt will be made with the Charity’s name as the owner.
  • There can be no prior sale commitment—meaning it cannot be a forward contract in your name that you transfer to the charity. It must be grain with no previous sale commitment

Steps to the Grain Giving Process

  1. Call the charity and let them know you plan to give them grain. Make sure the charity has an account at the elevator. This can usually be done by having the charity complete a W-9 to send to the elevator
  2. Deliver the grain to the elevator and be CERTAIN the elevator knows that the warehouse receipt needs to be made in the name of the charity. Remember, you CANNOT have it be made to you and the check made out to charity. That is a cash donation. The grain is your gift.
  3. Notify the charity that it has been delivered and that the charity should be receiving a receipt from the elevator. Let them know the ball is in their court to sell, now that they are the owners. The charity must direct the sale of the grain for cash proceeds.
  4. The charity should send a donor acknowledgement letter to the farmer for the bushels received. This is the farmer’s proof of gift.
  5. The farmer is able to deduct growing costs—but, of course, does not receive any income from the donated bushels. There is no need to report this anywhere else because it is already excluded from income.

Example of tax savings: Say you give 2,000 bushels of corn to a church, and they sell it for $3.00 a bushel, for $6,000. If a farmer is in the 22% bracket, they will save $1,320 in federal income tax, plus some state income tax. The additional benefit that makes grain giving better than a cash donation is the self-employment tax savings. $6000 x 15.3% = $918. So, the farmer saves an additional $918 in tax by giving grain as opposed to cash. In addition, giving grain lowers AGI which may make a farmer eligible for other beneficial tax credits. Also, if the farmer was unable to itemize, this is the ONLY way to make their giving deductible. In this example, the tax savings is $2238 on a $6000 gift, plus any state income tax savings.

Training the Trainers

Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” Kofi Annan

Part of Field of Hope’s mission is to inspire students in agriculture – to motivate them to see agriculture not as a poor man’s job but as a business with strong potential.

Most teachers in Uganda learned and now teach by method of lecture. Research will tell you this is the least effective method of teaching. Sitting in a classroom and writing everything possible that comes from the lecturer’s mouth is not inspirational. It’s daunting and boring, and it becomes hard to see the purpose in what one is learning.

Through experiential learning, students are educated through first-hand experiences; classroom focus shifts from the teacher to the student. Experiential learning takes what students already know – what they see at home or on their walk to school – and relates it back to what they’re learning by creating opportunities for them to see the lesson first-hand.

Field of Hope, partnering with Vivayic, has been developing curriculum for secondary (high school equivalent) agriculture classes in Uganda that is formatted for the experiential learning style. S1 (freshman level) was piloted this year – what started as three instructors quickly jumped to 15 as instructors heard about this curriculum and how it teaches their students. Just as this learning style is new for Ugandan students, it is new for Ugandan instructors, too. As one can imagine, teaching from what you write on the chalkboard and teaching from involved projects with high school students are quite different methods. Our instructors needed an expert to help them make the shift from lecture to the experiential learning style of teaching.

Lucky for us, Kelly Huenink, the adult agriculture trainer extraordinaire, happened to be in Uganda. God had orchestrated the pieces perfectly.

She said:

The processes of learning have been well-documented. Learning is not much different no matter where one is located in the world. However, teaching methods vary from country to country, culture to culture and teacher to teacher. We all have our favorite teacher, or teachers, and others who weren’t as good – even if they knew the content of the course well. Personally, I am humbled by my co-workers and their excellent teaching skills. I pale in comparison. Fortunately for me, I mainly teach adults in agriculture one-on-one, and that suits me well.

Recently, I worked with 15 Secondary Agriculture Teachers from almost as many High Schools in Northern Uganda. I had the help of Vivayic’s curriculum and staff to help prepare me for the two days of Train the Trainer that took place in late June in Lira through Field of Hope.

The first day, instructors volunteered to memorize paragraphs of the FFA Creed to recite later in the weekend. They all memorized their paragraphs! It was a great experience to hear them recite it. Tonny, an instructor, was challenged by the paragraph that talks about “less dependence on begging…”.

I know they all left with a greater understanding of the value of experiential learning (and that while lecture is the most common in Uganda, it is the least effective), how to utilize reviews and interest approaches, as well as gaining a deeper appreciation for the importance of agriculture. On the second day, instructors became familiar with the layout and structure of the curriculum (a scavenger hunt followed by a great discussion of their answers afterward). They also heard about project-based learning and the direction we’d like to see them heading with the upper-level students.

Some of the key ideas that they generated themselves were to 1). speak to their schools about eliminating the practice of using the gardens (digging) as punishment for students, 2). Giving each student a small plot if possible, 3). Using Bell Ringers to review the day before and to encourage them to be on time each day. The Bell Ringers come from the test review questions, and they keep a separate notebook for them.


The training was deemed successful, as our instructors were not only equipped to effectively teach out of the curriculum, but they were excited!

Here’s what the instructors have to say about our curriculum:

Field of Hope’s curriculum is helpful because “it prepares students for academic excellence, personal and career success including self-employment, and the curriculum is practical-based.” – Sam Okidi, Amuca SDA

“It is better to use and incorporate because most of the activities are learner-centered and practical-based.” – Isaac Obote, Amuca SDA

Field of Hope’s curriculum is helpful because “it engages students in activities and learning is more practical because learners are also involved. It motivates the learner to learn and inspires them to work hard.” – Wilfred Obalim, Skyland HS

The curriculum “is more involved (participatory) for the learners, hence students understand better.” – Irene Amito, FOH Trainer

“It gives very interactive questions as guides to the teacher.” – Tony Aguma, Hope Secondary School

“The curriculum is helpful to teach agriculture because it presents precise and simple content to understand. It also points the most appropriate methods to use when presenting a particular lesson.” – Emmanuel Adyebo, Lira Integrated

Field of Hope’s curriculum “gives knowledge in the details.” –Mercy Alum, RG

Meet Ketty

There are days when I question why I do this. It is my choice after all. There is no mandate to board the plane, to cross the Atlantic Ocean and wake up to roosters crowing half way around the world.

And somewhere between the intermittent electricity and cold showers, as the African sun burns into my skin and the wind embeds the red soils into my every crevice, the questions come…why do I continue to do this?*

Sure, there is adventure. But adventure would invite me on safari or white water rafting down the Nile. Adventure doesn’t invite you to the middle of a field.

But Ketty does.

Meet Ketty.  She is from Amolatar District in Northern Uganda and is one of the women in our Women’s Empowerment Program.  She was beside herself with excitement that I had come to visit her field.

I asked her how being part of the women’s group has changed her farming.  “I am learning new knowledge about how to do things better and now have access to a tractor which saves me so much time during plowing.”  She goes on to share how the mechanized plowing allows her to plant “in time” when the rains have come, which lets her hit the ideal planting window.

We are growing the women’s program “slowly by slowly” as they would say here, allowing the women and our partner’s at VOMAP to take the lead.  It is not our intent to manage a perfectly executed agricultural program, but rather to walk alongside our partners and the women at a pace that they help develop.  Otherwise, it would become “our” program and the progress would likely end when we board the plane to come home.

“What is your biggest challenge?” I ask.  “What would you like to see next through the program?”  She pauses and smiles a hopeful smile.  “I would like to be able to access a sprayer to help with insects and disease.”  I can also see the need, but because it is her idea, she will take ownership of the solution.

Tomorrow morning I will meet with the leaders of VOMAP and discuss how we might help the women formalize their Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) to become a resource for their agricultural endeavors.  This may become an avenue that enables Ketty to purchase that backpack sprayer she’s been eyeing.

“Please continue to visit me in my field to check on my progress.”  Then a smile paints across her face.  “Please you are welcome to join us for harvest!”**

I suddenly want nothing more than to do just that!  There are many kinds of harvests the Lord is preparing…

The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.  Matthew 9:37-38

*I realize that coming here for a short term trip hardly seems like a sacrifice, especially compared to my heroes, the long-term missionaries that give their lives to such a cause, however I am merely being transparent about my questions.  For example “What would be so wrong with living a ‘regular’ life, with all the creature comforts of home?”  The answer…nothing!  Until I meet another Ketty!

**Reliving the day, I nearly forget that we spoke through a translator (Agnes).  While English is the national language, each village speaks their own native tongue first.  The more remote locations you travel, the more limited education and English you will find.

Post by Brandy Young.