Three years ago, Lucas Sasaki arrived at Emmanuel College from Brazil to play collegiate tennis and earn a degree in business. Soon after settling into the small college town of Franklin Springs, Georgia, he accepted a work-study position on Emmanuel’s 40-acre campus farm and his love for farming began to grow.
Since changing his major to diversified agriculture, Sasaki has learned more about animals and planting than he ever thought possible. “Professor (Owen) Thomason has taught me a lot, and he really raised my interest in farming,” says Sasaki. “In Brazil, the only thing I knew about food, like fruits and vegetables, was that I had to make a trip to the grocery store to get them,” he jokes. “Since I was a child, I’ve always had a passion for animals and nature. My favorite shows to watch on television are on the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. Now, with my training in agriculture, I see myself more of like an activist, who is protecting the environment.”
In March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced Emmanuel College to move all courses online and students had to return home, Sasaki weighed his options carefully. “My mom wanted me to return to Brazil as there are much fewer confirmed cases there than in the United States, but they are also in quarantine. Since I graduate in the fall and have already submitted my application to live and work in the United States, I decided to stay here.”
As one of several students, mainly internationals, who Emmanuel welcomed to stay on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sasaki says this time has given him a tremendous opportunity to continue his academic studies online while learning more about farming through daily hands-on experiences.
“Working on the farm is hard work, especially in the unpredictable Georgia weather. It can be cold and wet one day and hot the next, but I can’t complain. I’m blessed to be able to do what I love.” In fact, Sasaki has grown to appreciate Emmanuel’s small country setting and the four distinctive seasons in the South. “In Brazil, the mild climate is pretty much the same year-round.”
According to Agriculture Professor and Program Chair Owen Thomason, “Lucas is a great example of why professors love Emmanuel College! I am very fortunate to have him as a student, manager of the farm and as a friend. He is one of the many hardworking students we have who has a love of learning something new and then trying it.”
The Emmanuel College degree in Diversified Agriculture offers students many opportunities and one of those is the chance to explore. Sasaki adds, “I’ve appreciated the opportunity to go on field trips, visit various farms of all sizes, and the diversity of the agriculture program. It’s not centralized teaching but well spread out. You can specialize if you want to or you can learn from many great professors who have a lot of professional experience in managing livestock and growing plants through traditional methods or new ways like aquaponics. My favorite time has been spent in the greenhouses planting, and I enjoy taking care of the goats and sheep. There is always something to do on a farm.”
And speaking of always having something to do, Sasaki plans to enjoy the big Montana sky this summer while he lives and works on a 40-acre organic vegetable farm. “I interned on a farm in New Jersey last summer and decided to go West this year,” Sasaki adds. “This internship will allow me the opportunity to learn more about the management side of sustainable farming and more about American culture.”
“I like the fact I can work the land, supply families with high-quality food and serve the community. Emmanuel has taught me that people here do things for others in the name of Jesus and that’s how I want to live my life. I want to live to give something back.”
Located in Franklin Springs, Georgia, Emmanuel College is a private Christian, four-year liberal arts institution offering more than 30 majors. The Diversified Agriculture program is one of newest programs, and students can choose from one of four concentrations: Agricultural Business, Agricultural Science, Agricultural Missions, and Agricultural Education. For more information, visit www.ec.edu/ag or email Program Chair Owen Thomason at firstname.lastname@example.org.