Peace Corps Volunteers Celebrate Earth Day

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 22, 2005 – Today, as Americans take time to clean up their local parks and neighborhoods as part of Earth Day, the more than 1,700 environmental and agriculture Peace Corps volunteers around the globe—on farms, in classrooms, and across rural communities—will also be doing their part to promote the importance of protecting the Earth worldwide.

"When you visit communities overseas, it doesn\'t take long to recognize the importance of ecological projects," said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. "In many countries, the act of redesigning landfills or planting trees in new ways not only improves lives, but actually generates new economic opportunities that also revitalize an area."

The Peace Corps has one the largest environmental workforces of any international development agency, with 22 percent of the 7,733 volunteers\' projects focused on environmental or agricultural projects in 40 countries. Volunteers work in a variety of areas such as teaching environmental education and conservation programs in schools and communities; instructing community members in the use of fuel-conservation; helping establish nurseries for orchards, windbreaks, live fencing, woodlots, and reforestation; and helping train staff to monitor and manage community natural resources.

Volunteers also encourage ecotourism, provide environmental education development seminars, and help create alternative income projects. For example:

  • Jim Price, 55, of Stoneville, N.C., is working with a small group of rural farmers in Jamaica. Through his work as an environmental promoter, approximately 300 farmers and their families in this low-income area have been able to benefit from the groups rural development project.

  • In the Dominican Republic, volunteers have helped plant more than 140,000 trees to establish a nursery that not only works to increase income for many farmers, but also helps conserve the soil.

    To learn more about other environmental projects in which Peace Corps volunteers are making a difference, please click here.

    Since 1961, more than 178,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. 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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