Students invited to devise 'Milking the Rhino' solutions

Penn State will host the inaugural "Milking the Rhino: Innovative Solutions Showcase" at 7 p.m. on Nov. 18 at Pattee Library's Foster Auditorum. The showcase will be the culmination of two weeks of students' efforts to develop appropriate, innovative and sustainable solutions to empower indigenous communities to leverage wildlife and natural resources for self-determined development in Africa.

For Penn State's Milking the Rhino competition, student teams must first make an attempt to understand the context of use and the specific challenges faced by the Maasai and Himba tribes in Kenya/Tanzania and Namibia, respectively. This initial research step will help the teams unravel the "sticky information" related to the problems faced by these communities -- the information that is difficult to replicate and diffuse because it is embodied in the people, places, organizations, societal constructs and other contextual entities. The sticky information, including an understanding of the various power relations, helps identify key stakeholders, marginalized stakeholders, constraints and resources to be considered in the design process leading to innovative and sustainable solutions.

Student teams of all disciplines are invited to participate in this competition.

The Milking the Rhino competition is inspired by the award-winning documentary with the same name and explores the relationship between people and wildlife in Africa. It examines environmental conservation from the perspective of people who live with wildlife and offers a complex, intimate portrait of two community-based conservation efforts in Kenya and Namibia.

Participating teams are strongly encouraged to view the documentary before making their pitches. The DVD is on reserve at the Music and Media Center at the West Pattee Library. Students can borrow the DVD and view it in room W214 at the library but cannot take the DVD out of the library. The  documentary will also be screened for interested students at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8 in 808 Ford Building.

After the student teams have become familiar with the challenges of the situation, they may prepare three-minute video pitches for the competition. The pitches can address any general or specific problem related to the indigenous peoples' livelihoods, including wildlife and natural resource management, access to income, famine, gender inequity, human rights and ethics. The context should be either the Maasai or Himba people and their natural surroundings, or any other indigenous people with similar challenges in Africa. Video pitches will be rated by an interdisciplinary five-member expert panel based on the teams' understanding of the context and the problem; the quality of their solution with specific emphasis on innovation, economic sustainability and potential for large-scale impact and the quality of their video pitch.

Student team video pitches are due at 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 16 on All solutions will be screened from 7 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 18, at Pattee Library's Foster Auditorium during the Innovative Solutions Showcase.

The rules of the competition, judging criteria and information about available resources are explained in detail on the competition Web site at

This event is part of the Global Entrepreneurship Week and a series of events related to the visit of Jeannie Magill, originator and co-producer of the Milking the Rhino documentary.

The Milking the Rhino: Innovative Solutions Showcase is hosted by the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship program in the College of Engineering and the Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism Management in the College of Health and Human Development.

The Digital Commons at Penn State will provide participants with one-on-one, hands-on assistance from experienced multimedia experts. Extensive online support and resources are also available through the Digital Commons Web site at

Specific questions can be directed to Khanjan Mehta at or Duarte Morais

Media Contacts: 

Katie Cuppett

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Last Updated November 10, 2009