Peace Corps Promotes Environmental Awareness on Earth Day

Peace Corps Volunteers promote environmental stewardship through grass roots action.

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 23, 2007 Peace Corps Volunteers joined hundreds of thousands of people around the world in celebrating the 37th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22.

Throughout the month of April, Peace Corps Volunteers on farms, in classrooms, and across rural communities are celebrating through environmental projects that reinforce local knowledge of ecology and encourage the use of natural resources in more sustainable ways.

The Peace Corps has one the largest environmental workforces of any international development agency, with 19 percent of the 7,749 Volunteers projects focused on environmental or agricultural projects in 40 countries. Peace Corps Volunteers work with teachers, introducing or strengthening environmental education, and showing active methods of demonstrating environmental stewardship.

Volunteers also work in agro-forestry and reforestation; soil and water management and conservation; protected area management; developing water sources; creating forest inventories and habitat and wildlife surveys; and building energy-efficient cooking stoves. They also work to raise awareness about the environment, encourage gardening, and promoting ecotourism. For example:

  • In Macedonia, Peace Corps Volunteer Peter Scherer has helped plan a series of events in the city of Struga, in which a local environmental group participated in a march, along with friends, colleagues and citizens, to demonstrate the importance of caring for the environment. A fun run around town was also held to promote the idea of healthy living. Other in-country activities include a youth street theater production in the city of Skopje showing the hazards of global warming, and a contest to paint an ecologically-themed mural on an elementary school wall in Negotino.

  • In Tanzania, Volunteer James Maginot is working with a group of 90 women to demonstrate vegetable gardening techniques and promote family gardens close to home to combat malnutrition in the community. With the jovial philosophy that vegetables can bring world peace, Maginot has also held cooking seminars and has introduced the idea of snacking on raw vegetables to young children in his community.

  • In The Gambia, agroforestry Volunteer Frank Ibarra says Every day feels like Earth Day. Ibarra is starting a tree nursery of up to a thousand cashew trees, and hundreds of moringa trees, to be used as live fencing around the perimeter of the Yero Beri Kunda livestock camp. The month of April is ideal for starting tree nurseries, says Ibarra. Trees get a couple months in the nursery before being planted during the rainy season, giving them a better chance of surviving after the rains are over.

  • In Morocco, Volunteer activities throughout the country include carrying out tree planting, community clean-up and environmental education activities, including informational sessions on garbage and battery disposal. Volunteer Michael Toomey is working with community members in Tazarine to plant 5,100 apple and pine trees to improve local environmental conditions, and bolster the communitys financial security.

Since 1961, more than 187,000 Peace Corps 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.

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