The Sustainable Agriculture Systems (SAS) program’s goal is that small-holder, rural Panamanian farmers—men, woman, youth, and children—are food secure and have resilient, sustainable livelihoods. After a period of integration, SAS Volunteers work side-by-side with skilled community members promoting best and/or new techniques for farming, agriculture-based income generation, organizational development, and nutrition. Together, they assess community needs and create action plans to promote behavior change and achieve local goals.
Typical endeavors include growing cash crops such as vegetables or coffee, producing artisanal goods from local materials, developing basic budgeting, marketing or group organization trainings to support these endeavors, and addressing nutritional issues through gardens or new recipes. Additionally, the SAS program partners with local agencies, organizations and NGOs, including the Ministry of Agriculture Development (MIDA) and FAO.
Youth in Development
The Youth Leadership Development (YLD) program complements national government initiatives carried out by the Ministries of Education and Social Development. The program seeks to provide opportunities for Panamanians 12 to 19 years old to build on their skills and knowledge, develop self-esteem, navigate relationships, engage with their communities and pursue future employment. YLD Volunteers collaborate with youth service providers such as school counselors, teachers, local leaders, parents and youth leaders to co-plan and co-facilitate activities in the school and community.
Potential activities include: workshops, clubs, day camps, mentorships, service-learning projects and awareness days. Volunteers and service providers monitor and evaluate youth participation using specific objectives and evaluation tools. To support each other’s growth as organizers, mentors and facilitators they share ideas, information, responsibilities and constructive feedback.
The Community Environmental Conservation (CEC) program's goal is that Panamanians are equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to address climate change through the implementation of mitigation and adaptation activities in order to promote conservation, resilience and wellbeing in their own communities. Volunteers work with skilled community members, and in primary schools (with both teachers and students) collaborating on prioritized projects to address their local environmental challenges.
Typical activities include training on natural resources conservation (i.e. tree nurseries/reforestation, solid waste management, and organic gardening); promotion of renewal energy (eco-stove construction); cultivate leadership (through camps and clubs); offering skills in project development and management; co-planning and co-facilitating environmental education activities. Additionally, the CEC program partners with local agencies, organizations and NGOs, Ministry of Environment (MiAMBIENTE) and Ministry of Education (MEDUCA).
The Youth Health and Well-Being program works exclusively in the Comarca Ngäbe-Buglé, a semi-autonomous Indigenous region in western Panama. Volunteers work alongside health promotors from both the Ministry of Health and the Association of Traditional and Natural Health Agents to deliver health and life skills curriculum. Parents, caregivers, and adolescents are key partners in the design, implementation, and evaluation of program activities. Through camps, clubs, and both formal and informal trainings, the YHWB program aims to reduce instances of HIV, unintended pregnancies, and gender-based violence while promoting healthy relationships and access to youth-friendly health services.