Strengthen Agronomy and Crop Science Instruction at University

Activity/project background

Partner: Lofa County University (Government)

The College of Agriculture at the Lofa County University in Liberia is one of the new colleges within the university that is devoted to excellence in promoting cutting edge technology, knowledge, providing academic leadership, equipping students with the competencies and confidence they need to solve agricultural problems, and supporting them to work in a professional agricultural setting. The College of Agriculture seeks to contribute to the overall development of Liberia through the provision of practical teaching skills using innovation.

The University is seeking to engage a Virtual Service Pilot Participant (VSPP) to support the training, coaching, and mentoring of faculty in practical teaching skills that generate new innovations through research and extension, and by developing proven agricultural practices that can be transferred to farmers and other major stakeholders in agriculture. In addition, in collaboration with faculty, the VSPP will mentor graduating senior students in the College of Agriculture on soil science, soil survey and analysis, and other best practices.

The Lofa County University has worked with Peace Corps Volunteers in the past to support its need for trained manpower. The service of these Volunteers contributed to the promotion of the school from a community college to its status as a university. They understand that the role of a Virtual Service Pilot Participant (VSPP) is very different than a two-year Volunteer.

Virtual service engagement and tasks

The VSPP will engage in the following tasks, in collaboration with their Host Country Partners:

• Co-assess the teaching skill levels of faculty to determine capacity gap and intervention
• Co-develop training program and lesson plans
• Mentor 2-3 faculty members in the College of Agriculture on innovative teaching methods
• Mentor faculty member in soil science, soil surveys and laboratory analysis
• Mentor graduating senior students in the College of Agriculture in soil science, soil survey and analysis and other best practices

This engagement is expected to be approximately 12 weeks. VSPPs are expected to engage on the tasks listed above for an estimated 5-15 hours per week.

Meetings between VSPPs and Host Country Counterparts will take place during normal office hours, from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Liberia standard time. Specific times will be determined during orientation.

The Host Country Counterpart will have access to WhatsApp, Zoom, email and other digital medium that is commonly used in post country for regular communication and collaboration.

Per the Child Protection Code of Conduct, when engaging online with minors (0-18), two adults must be present.

Optional additional activities

The Peace Corps mission is to promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:

  1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Goal 1 will be achieved through the VSPP's engagement and completion of the above tasks. The counterpart and VSPP may also choose to identify an activity that aligns with Goal 2. Additionally, the VSPP may identify a Goal 3 activity to implement during their engagement. See recommendations and tools for Goal 3 activities.

Essential qualifications

Education: Master’s degree in agronomy, soil science, crop science, or related field

• 2 years’ experience teaching at an institution of higher learning
• 2 years’ experience teaching crop science or agronomy, soil science, or related field at any institution of higher learning
• 2 years’ experience in applied research or publication of research
• Experience in soil science, soil laboratory analysis and testing

Intercultural skills and motivation: Flexible, strong cross-cultural agility, high tolerance for ambiguity, able to work independently, resourceful, creative, and genuinely motivated and capable to serve virtually

Desired qualifications

Education: Ph.D. in agronomy, soil science, crop science or related field

Technical Skills: Familiarity with virtual engagement and communication

• 3 years’ experience teaching crop science or agronomy, soil science or related field at any agricultural college or university
• 3 years’ experience teaching or mentoring in an academic environment
• Prior experience with applied research and publication of research
• Have some experience working with people from diverse backgrounds

Terms and conditions of engagement

VSPPs will be engaging with the host country partner, in coordination with Peace Corps post staff, remotely from the US. They should have access to a computer, internet, and telephone in order to enable direct engagement with the Peace Corps overseas office and the Host Country Counterpart assigned by the host country partner.

Orientation with the host country partner will be provided, within the designated virtual service hours, during the first week of virtual service via an online presentation and discussion. The host country partner will provide an overview of its organization, the local context, and how they envision collaborating with the VSPP.

The VSPP will have regular check-ins with their counterpart and bi-weekly check-ins with Peace Corps staff. Spending unstructured time with counterparts can be critical to relationship-building and is encouraged through activities such as coffee chats and informal calls within the weekly 5-15 hours.

Engagement-specific safety and security

The VSPP will receive an orientation on Peace Corps’ Child Protection Policy and how it relates to online engagement along with IT security best practices. The VSPP will be expected to follow safety and security guidelines for online engagement to ensure their safety and that of the Host Country Partner and their counterpart, and any beneficiaries of the engagement.

Supervision requirements

The VSPP will report to a designated Peace Corps staff member. The VSPP will be expected to abide by the Virtual Service Pilot Participant and Donation Agreement and Participant Principles of Engagement. The VSPP will also be expected to check in with the designated host country counterpart as assigned by the host county partner.

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