Inspiring stories: EARTH Alumni

Each story showcases the many ways in which our alumni bring positive impact to their communities worldwide.

Aracely Montes de Oca Vera (’95, Ecuador)

Aracely Montes de Oca Vera (’95, Ecuador)

One of the best ways to see the impact of an EARTH education is through our graduates. 80% of EARTH alumni return to their home communities and report creating positive change there. This year, EARTH University Foundation board member, Lynn Hoffman-Brouse, documented the stories of twenty-one of these alumni. Whether graduates go on to run an agricultural business, work in government, or promote sustainability, they all keep the ethics and values of EARTH at the center of their work.

After her 1995 graduation from EARTH, Aracely returned to her home country of Ecuador and settled on the family farm to raise her girls, start her businesses, and convert the land into an integral farm, complete with hectares of natural forest set aside for conservation. read more

With her two employees, Rosa and Don Nilo, she runs Agrofeliz, an organic fertilizer production company. Along with Agrofeliz, Aracely grows trees and plants for sale to neighbors and businesses.

Aracely believes in creating a community of sharing and family. She supports small business owners in her community and shares her bounty and wealth of agricultural knowledge with them. She also spends hours working with EARTH applicants from the area. She is devoted to her daughters, and is teaching them about the value of hard work and the joy that comes from sharing all that life gives with those around her.

Camaraderie, teamwork, and supporting those around you; those are the most important things that EARTH taught me. The technical knowledge added to the values I learned there; values such as taking care of the environment, not littering, conserving trees, respecting human beings and respecting the land.

I had colleagues and professors from different cultures and nationalities. I got experience there to be able to take risks, create a company, and come home with a mission. That mission is to help others, to work with farmers, to be an entrepreneur, to generate employment. I learned this at EARTH.

Aracely and family

Aracely and family

I have two daughters, Astrid and Dasha, who are quite restless and very alert. I am teaching them what I do, the value of work, and the value of perseverance. Being a single mom, both mother and father, has made me have a vision for my life. For example, I try to diversify my income. When I sell plants or fertilizer, I make money and I can invest. But, at times the sale of fertilizers is a bit difficult, but I sell the plants, and when I sell them, I go to the farmer who buys them and I offer to sell him the fertilizer. If he buys it, then it is a complementary income.

The best business for me is to give, because then you really earn more than money; you earn smiles and gratitude, but people also want to do what you do. You are a neighbor and a teacher.”

I take advantage of everything that the integral farm produces for three purposes: first for family sustenance, second to give gifts to friends, relatives, and hospitals; and third, to sell for income. My greatest satisfaction today is to be able to work my farm or make tools such as the fertilizers to give it to a farmer and to be happy. A friend of mine said that the best business is giving because when you give a gift, when you serve someone, that is true satisfaction. The good life means to share, to be able to enjoy my family, to see my children grow to be able to teach them. My life is beautiful.

My company is not a big company, but it is a great experience to be able to generate a change in the agricultural production, to be able to make it a little more sustainable and also to be able to generate employment.