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Forage Center News

Forage Center Returns to Florida with Program for Undergraduates at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

11/1/23, 5:00 PM

The Forage Center held another successful simulation in Florida

Hosted by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and engaging a student body from both the global conflict and homeland security programs, the Forage Center’s field simulation tested the agility and resilience of 15 undergraduate students. The exercise challenged each student through a 12-hour experiential field simulation designed to test and reinforce the principles of humanitarian aid and crisis management in a live-action and ever-changing crisis. The Forage Center last held an exercise in Florida in 2017 in Fellsmere, FL.

The event occurred Saturday, October 14, at the university’s Daytona Beach, FL campus. Drawing from students from the homeland security program, internally displaced people (IDPs) were coached on the challenges and conditions that people face during situations of disaster and displacement. The IDPs “really brought the heat!” according to Chelsea Cornwell, the exercise director.

During the course of the day, 15 students role-playing as members of the Forage Corps met with four different non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working to respond to the forced displacement of the IDPs.  NGOs represented medical, housing, emergency response, and LGBTQ organizations looking to work with the Forage Corps.  During each meeting, Forage Corps members negotiated to develop a coordinated plan to respond to the needs of the IDPs.   The Forage Corps also met frequently with the IDPs to determine their needs and learn about the crisis they were experiencing.

Shock and dismay were worn on the faces of the members of the Forage Corps when news of lunch had been delivered: plain beans and rice.  “It's important for students to have an experience of plain utilitarian food because that’s how it is in the field,” said David J. Smith, Forage Center president.  Despite the absence of garnish or condiments, the students rallied after lunch and found new vigor for meeting IDPs and other in-country partners.

Each interaction may have only lasted thirty minutes, but they were meticulously designed as standalone events and as scenes in the wider fictitious humanitarian crisis in the fictional country of Costero. The students were quizzed on their knowledge of humanitarian aid principles, questioned on their applicability to the present disaster, and challenged to connect to the IDPs with empathy and compassion despite their own fatigue and confusion.

One Forage Corps member remarked during the post-simulation debrief: “Direct-practice humanitarian aid is dangerous work that can be very rewarding. Going into hostile regions to administer aid to victims of crises is a very daunting task, but it is necessary in the world that we live in. The simulation gave me new insight into a possible career that I had not previously considered nor known much about. I was able to see myself grow to take on more roles in leadership and showcase my own empathy in a way that aided the needs and concerns of those who needed it.”

For more information on future simulations, please contact The Forage Center is available to hold exercises at academic institutions and other locations.

About the Forage Center: The Forage Center, a 501c3 not-for-profit entity, provides educational opportunities and experiential-based training for students, educators, and professionals working in peacebuilding and humanitarian environments. For more information, visit

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