Peace Corps Commemorates Earth Day

Peace Corps Volunteers encourage environmental stewardship through grass roots action

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 22, 2008 - Around the world today, the Peace Corps will observe the 38th anniversary of Earth Day, honoring the importance of caring for and spreading knowledge of the environment. Thousands of people celebrate Earth Day every year through local and international events across the globe, including Peace Corps Volunteers who are working to increase environmental awareness through projects and activities at the grassroots level.

The Peace Corps has one of the largest environmental workforces of any international development agency, as 14 percent of its 8,079 Volunteers are working on environment-related projects in 38 countries. From water sanitation to sustainable farm practices, wildlife conservation to community education, Peace Corps Volunteers raise the level of consciousness and action in all countries in which they serve.

"I am proud of the work of Peace Corps environmental Volunteers," said Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter. "Environmental Volunteers are at the forefront of initiating new ideas and strategies in awareness, sustainability, efficiency, and restoration of the environment at the grassroots level."

Volunteers work in agro-forestry and reforestation; soil and water management and conservation; wildlife and protected area management; developing water sources; creating forest inventories, as well as habitat and wildlife surveys; and building energy-efficient cooking stoves. By raising the level of awareness, Volunteers have highlighted the significance of caring for the Earth. Here are a few examples of Peace Corps Volunteers efforts to serve this purpose:

  • In Armenia, Peace Corps Volunteer Rud Hubbard is working with "Green Tavush," a non-governmental organization that promotes environmental education. Through this program, Hubbard helped to create the "Sustainable Agriculture University Development Project" which trains local agricultural advisors in sustainable and organic farming practices. The training facility features a solar-powered greenhouse, a compost area, and 2,000 square miles available for crop land.

  • In Jamaica, Volunteer Brooke Anderson is working with the Negril Coral Reef Preservation Society through the Peace Corps/Jamaica Green Initiative project. She is helping to develop a World Oceans Day event to build awareness on climate change and its effects on the ocean. Five schools will participate in a poster competition relating to this theme.

  • In Cape Verde, Volunteers Brian Newhouse, Nick Hanson, and Alexander Alper are all working on sustainable projects to assist in Cape Verdes water issues. Water is key in Cape Verde since the island country relies on desalinated sea water, which is currently produced by using electrical energy generated by petroleum fuels. Newhouse and Hanson have helped students and faculty at the Assomada Technical School to develop, design, and build prototype water desalination units using solar energy. Alper has also worked with host country counterparts to develop prototype high-efficiency stoves.

  • In Fiji, Volunteer Maya Breitburg-Smith serves as an environmental educator, helping to organize the "Clean Compound Competition" in her village. The Competition encourages and rewards community members who compost, recycle, and clean up the environment.

  • In Paraguay, Volunteers Justin Mog and Amanda Fuller have helped create the Seed Bank Project. This sustainability project provides a centralized bank of seeds for other Volunteers to use while promoting in their agricultural activities. The seeds gathered in the bank are often rare or too expensive for impoverished Paraguayans to try. The seeds are available to Paraguayans families, free-of-charge, in the context of a loan in which the borrower grows the crop and returns a percentage of the harvested seeds to the Seed Bank. The cyclical system ensures sustainability and growth for both Paraguayan farmers and the Seed Bank.

Earth Day was founded in the 1970 to increase both domestic and global awareness of environmental issues. This years theme, A Call for Climate, promotes climate change awareness.

The Peace Corps is celebrating a 47-year legacy of service at home and abroad. Currently there are 8,000 Volunteers abroad, a 37-year high for Volunteers in the field. Since 1961, more than 190,000 Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries where Volunteers have served. Peace Corps Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment. To learn more about the Peace Corps, please visit our website:

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