Ag Sciences students honored for their 'Milking the Rhino' video

January 19, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Three students in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences recently were recognized for their research and design of a short video for the Milking the Rhino: Innovative Solutions Showcase competition.

Elise Brown, a graduate student in agricultural and extension education from Tangier, Ind., Alex Gren, a senior wildlife and fisheries science major from Zionsville, and Nicole O'Block, a senior agricultural science major with international agriculture and leadership development minors from Irwin, were winners in the Best Use of Indigenous Knowledge category for their video outlining a solution to prevent the cattle disease, nagana.

Unique to Africa, nagana is caused by protozoa and is spread primarily by tsetse flies. Symptoms include fever, muscular wasting, anemia, swelling of tissues, discharge from eyes and nose, and paralysis. The disease causes an estimated 3 million cattle deaths and $4 billion in lost production every year.

The solution proposed in the students' video involved the cultivation of garlic for the Maasai people in East Africa to use as an insecticide for their livestock. The students were recognized for their knowledge of Maasai culture and for developing a solution that incorporated aspects of that culture.

The Milking the Rhino competition is inspired by the award-winning documentary of the same name that highlights environmental conservation in Africa. The film tells the stories of the Maasai and Himba communities as they strive to use and protect natural resources to break out of poverty.

The phrase "milking the rhino" describes how the communities are working to benefit both themselves and the wildlife that surrounds them.

The competition invites student teams from around the world to create a video that promotes a solution to a problem faced by the Maasai or Himba peoples regarding wildlife and natural resource management, conservation, and sustainability. The three-minute video is rated by an interdisciplinary panel of judges.

The Milking the Rhino: Innovative Solutions Showcase is coordinated by the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Program at Penn State. Sponsors include the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance; the Marjorie Grant Whiting Center for Humanity, Arts and the Environment; Johnson and Johnson; and the following Penn State entities: the Interinstitutional Consortium for Indigenous Knowledge; the Farrell Center for Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Office of Student Activities, the Center for Global Studies, the School of International Affairs, and the Dickinson School of Law.

The students completed this activity as part of an assignment for the class, communication methods and media, in the College of Agricultural Sciences.


  • From left, Alex Gren , Elise Brown and Nicole O’Block were honored for their video.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 23, 2012