Program Contact 

Colonel James Turner PHD '65 
Professor and Chair of Biology 
Science #203A 
Virginia Military Institute 
Lexington, VA 24450 

P: 540-464-7436 
F: 540-464-7047 

VMI Shepherd Poverty Program

 Student Preparing Food in KitchenThe Shepherd Poverty Program at VMI offers cadets the opportunity to learn about the multiple dimensions of poverty in the United States through academic and practical experiences. Each fall VMI offers the Poverty and Human Capability (ERH 240)  course. This course is focused on an exploration of the causes and possible solutions to poverty. The goal of this course is not only to develop a greater understanding of poverty and the poor, but also to identify solutions that are both practical and ethical. Cadets interested in learning more about the Poverty and Human Capability course should contact Professor Richter in the English Rhetoric and Humanistic Studies department. Click here for a more thorough description of the Shepherd Poverty Program Curriculum.

Cadets who successfully complete the Poverty and Human Capability course are eligible to participate in the Shepherd Internship Program. The Shepherd Internship Program is hosted through the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty. The consortium brings together a number of universities and agencies across the United States. VMI typically sponsors 1-2 cadets each year to participate in the Shepherd Internship Program. Summer interns take part in an 8-week long internship experience and are provided with opportunities to reflect upon their experience through blog posts and a final presentation of their experience. Cadets interested in learning more about the Shepherd Internship Program, should contact Major Hayden in Career Services. Click here for additional information about the Shepherd Internship Program.

Benefits include:

  • Providing a structure for student leadership and volunteer service in the local Rockbridge community and summer internships across the nation as a part of VMI’s effort to accentuate student honor, leadership and learning.
  • In keeping with VMI’s mission to cultivate citizen soldiers, the Shepherd Program seeks to offer opportunities for cadets to acquire skills and qualities of character that dispose them to serve communities and disadvantaged individuals.
  • In the future cadets can be conscious of how their conduct as leaders, professionals, and citizens will affect the opportunities of disadvantaged persons to contribute to a better life for themselves, their families and their communities. Thus, the Shepherd Program is integral to the total education on which VMI prides itself.