Peace Corps Mourns the Loss of Volunteer Porter Knight
WASHINGTON D.C., MARCH 26, 2014 - Peace Corps Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet is saddened to confirm the death of Peace Corps volunteer Porter Knight. Porter, 28, passed away in his host country of Paraguay on Tuesday, March 25, 2014.
“Porter’s lifelong commitment to protecting our precious natural resources made him an extraordinary Peace Corps volunteer,” Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “He was generous and open in sharing his expertise with friends and colleagues in his community of service. This is an enormous loss for the entire Peace Corps family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Knight family during this difficult time.”
Porter, of Ashland, Va., entered service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay on September 26, 2012, following in the footsteps of his aunt, who previously served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica. Porter worked as an environment conservation project volunteer in the rural community of “3 de Noviembre,” in the department of Guaira. There, he collaborated with Paraguayans to create environmental awareness in their country and inspired them to take action to address local environmental issues. He worked closely with local teachers, students, subsistence farmers and neighbors.
As a volunteer dedicated to the environment, Porter led numerous conservation and sustainability projects that promoted renewable fuels, gardening and composting, as well as tactics for improved crop production. Peace Corps Paraguay staff described Porter as “very well-regarded as a true professional and well-respected in the community.”
Porter’s love of nature and commitment to preserving and protecting the environment began long before his Peace Corps service. He worked as a natural resources specialist at the Virginia Department of Forestry and, as a trained wildland firefighter, volunteered to help fight wildfires in Virginia. He also designed and coordinated the installation of a sanitation system to provide clean drinking water in Puerto Rico and studied livestock in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. He took every chance he could to travel abroad, including trips to South Africa, Costa Rica, and throughout South America.
He received his undergraduate degree in environmental science from Ferrum College in Ferrum, Va., and his master’s degree in environmental science and engineering from Virginia Tech. Porter was an outdoorsman who loved fishing, hunting, hiking and woodworking. In addition to being a trained firefighter, he was also a chainsaw operator, welder and avid motorcyclist.
In his Peace Corps application, Porter mentioned his eagerness to learn, open-mindedness and patience as attributes he planned to rely on during his service in Paraguay. He wrote, “Throughout my life, I have been eager to learn and open to new ideas that may help with environmental problems. During my service, I will use what I have learned to help the Paraguayans the best I can. I also hope to learn a lot from them.” Porter hoped to gain an appreciation of the “simpler things in life” while in the Peace Corps.
He is survived by his parents, Mary and Jon Knight.