A young Dan West had come up with the idea of Heifer while distributing powdered milk to desperate people displaced by the Spanish Civil War. These people need not a cup, but a cow, he said.

Today Heifer turns 66. On June 18, 1944, the first shipment of 17 dairy cows set out to help families in Puerto Rico. These heifers were the first of millions of animals that have changed countless lives. West was if nothing else, audacious. He was unafraid of a big challenge.

That’s why June 18th was chosen to officially launch the program “Heifer Challenge.”

This new program for schools, congregations and work places was inspired by a unique challenge about ten years ago. The staff of Marie Claire sent Susan Sarandon into the streets of Manhattan with a long list of dares, and for each one she met, the magazine donated animals to Heifer.

For example, by getting herself into a photo with a bride and groom, they gave a cow. She organized a “Hands Across Wall Street,” convinced a man to dye his hair blond, took a bite out of a stranger’s sandwich — all totaled she met 18 challenges, earning llamas, chickens, water buffalo, and other livestock that ultimately would help dozens of families around the world move from poverty to self-reliance.

Heifer Challenge now makes it possible for you to dare others — for good. You can download the new leader's guide here.

So, Happy Birthday, Heifer! As we celebrate, let’s think about how we can challenge ourselves to make a greater difference in our world.

Author

Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.