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Michigan State UniversityLyman Briggs College

LBC alumna gives back to community in Uganda

Lyman Briggs College alumna Sarah Scott first traveled to Kibale, Uganda as an undergraduate in 2013 through a study abroad program titled “Evolution of Uganda’s Forest Biodiversity: Apes to Aves.” While in Kibale, Sarah and her classmates tent camped, studied local birds and primates, and learned about rainforest conservation.


"I have always been fascinated by and in love with the natural world around me,” says Sarah. “Traveling to such a biodiverse area proved to be an inspiring, thought-provoking, and motivational experience. After seeing everything I did on the trip, I am more driven to work hard and make a positive change in the world." 


Just over one year later, Sarah Scott is planning her return to Kibale but for a much different purpose. A few months ago, Sarah and her study abroad classmates received the sad news that a friend they had made in Kibale named Benson Bamatura had passed away. While studying in Uganda, the class had spent a significant amount of time with Benson. He was a husband, a father of 3 children and 2 foster children, and a tour guide for visitors to Uganda. He was also a bird watcher and a conservationist. Benson had worked to protect rainforests in Uganda and had helped researchers from the Rare Finch Conservation Group study a local bird called Shelley’s Crimsonwing.


Upon hearing of Benson’s death, Sarah Scott decided she wanted to do something to honor her friend and to give back to his community. Benson’s community suggested that she could help them build an additional classroom for Bigodi Secondary School in Kibale. The additional classroom would allow many more community members, including Benson’s children, to receive an education.

Sarah and her friend Kirk Mason, a fellow MSU alumnus, have accepted this challenge and will move to Uganda in October to begin construction. They will live right outside Kibale as they help oversee and build the classroom, which they expect to take at least one year to complete. Sarah and Kirk also plan to teach English to community members in Kibale in their free time.


Sarah and Kirk have spent this summer raising funds, networking with people who will help with construction, and planning the logistics of the project. “We’ve received such an overwhelming amount of support,” says Sarah. "It is wonderful to see that there are so many people who are responsive to this project. We are still working hard on fundraising, but we have begun to make a dent on the total cost for the project. All of the support from friends and family is heartwarming, and I am incredibly grateful to everyone who is contributing." Their goal is to raise $10,000 to support the project.


Sarah graduated from Lyman Briggs College in May with a degree in zoology. She believes that education is an important tool for environmental conservation and hopes that building this classroom will have a positive impact on both the people and rainforests in Kibale.

Kirk is a photographer and documentary maker who has filmed documentaries around the world through MSU’s 360 Project. He will be filming the construction of the additional classroom. Sarah and Kirk will also be writing about their experience on their blog, A Classroom for Benson.