Agriculture Sciences Promoter

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Peace Corps domestically and internationally.

The information provided for each assignment is subject to change, including the tentative departure date.

Project Description

The Agriculture project’s goal is for rural households to achieve sustainable agriculture-based livelihoods.
The project supports the future pipeline of small producers in Paraguay. Therefore, Volunteers are assigned to communities with agriculture technical high schools, called Bachillerato Tecnico Agropecuario (BTA). The project is designed to have a six-year Peace Corps presence in agriculture in each of these communities - three generations of Volunteers, each serving for two years. Through 6 years of Volunteer presence and support in strengthening students’ learning and formation in agriculture, the idea is that more of the graduates of these schools work in agriculture or pursue further education related to agriculture after high school. Each generation has a specific set of objectives. Volunteers scheduled to depart in the fall of 2022 will be Generation 1.

For Generation 1, Volunteer work could include, but is not limited to, the following:
• Co-facilitate classes in agriculture schools (grades 7-12) on topics such as gardens, field crops and soil recuperation
• Work outside the classroom with students on the school garden and agroforestry
• Work with farming families, supporting students and their families in applying sustainable agriculture techniques
• Working alongside local government stakeholders to provide trainings and workshops for farming families
• In the second year of service, PCVs will continue working at the school as well as expanding their work with farming families (about five families per Volunteer) and building extension skills with students outside of school.

Future generations of Volunteers will continue the work of Generation 1, through further intensification of the activities above, the addition of small scale animal husbandry and post-harvest management, creating links with local leaders, and engaging support from local governments and authorities.
All three generations of Volunteers work with counterparts to train youth (including recent graduates) in agricultural extension techniques at the school and with farming families to improve agricultural production and initiate a career in agricultural extension work. Volunteers also work with counterparts in teaching nutrition and the preparation of nutritious meals. In addition, they may provide support in teaching agroforestry, basic business skills (such as financial literacy), and farm planning and management.

Volunteers work 40 hours/week. Approximately 16 - 20 hours at the school, of which 8 – 10 hours will be in the classroom while the other hours will be with the students outside of the classroom in the school garden, with experimental plots and/or doing other activities. The remaining hours will be spent working with families and the community.

Peace Corps Paraguay is excited to welcome enthusiastic and resilient Volunteers who are dedicated to serving the people of Paraguay. The sector strategy for Agriculture is closely coordinated with the Ministry of Education and has been interrupted due to the temporary suspension of operations; chosen Volunteers will need understanding, professionalism and flexibility. The project will beginning anew with the return of Volunteers.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

In the past year, the world has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have an expressed interest in working in agriculture and one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
OR
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Science degree or Associate degree in Agronomy, Horticulture, or other related fields
• Prior experience working with youth and adults in formal or non-formal educational settings to promote crop cultivation and/or bio-intensive gardening is strongly preferred
• At least one years’ experience with gardening, farming and/or soil recuperation/conservation
• Strong interest to learn an indigenous language
• At least one year of experience working in a rural area under challenging conditions
• At least one year of experience serving others
• Demonstrated flexibility in work assignments
• Demonstrated ability to work effectively with teachers, farmers, and/or youth groups
• Previous experience as the ‘new person’ moving into a community and successfully building positive relationships with others
• Conversational Spanish skills

Required Language Skills

Candidates must meet one or more of the language requirements below in order to be considered for this position.
A. Completed 4 years of high school Spanish coursework within the past 8 years
B. Completed minimum 2 semesters of Spanish college‐level coursework within the past 6 years
C. Native/fluent speaker of Spanish

Candidates who do not meet the language proficiency levels above can take the language placement exams to demonstrate their level of proficiency. Competitive applicants typically attain a score of 50 on the Spanish College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or a score of Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI).

Competitive candidates will have conversational Spanish language skills. Paraguay is a bilingual country where both Spanish and Guaraní are official national languages. In order to communicate in the capital city of Asuncion (and other large urban areas), Spanish is the most common language. However, in rural areas where Agriculture Volunteers will be placed, Guaraní or “Jopara” (a mixture of Guaraní and Spanish) is the most common way to communicate. You will therefore need to learn both languages in order to be able to communicate and be effective in your work. Pre-Service Training (PST) will include Spanish and Guaraní training. Trainees who start PST with limited Spanish language skills, may struggle to learn the two languages. It is important to maintain an open and positive attitude about language learning, as well as being willing to dedicate substantial time to learning and practicing both languages outside of formal language class during Pre-Service Training.

Trainees will not be able to swear in as a Volunteer unless they meet both language benchmarks. Additionally, during training, trainees will be taught a basic competence in Spanish, but the focus of language training will be in Guaraní. Also, Guaraní is taught through Spanish so each Trainee needs to be able to communicate in both languages.

If perfecting or becoming fluent in Spanish is a main goal of Peace Corps service for you, Paraguay may not be the best fit.

Living Conditions

Communities:
• Communities range from rural (less than 1,000 habitants) to larger semi-urban areas (7,000-12,000 habitants).
• In some communities electricity is unreliable (works some days and doesn't work other days).
• Volunteers may have limited cell phone coverage and/or internet access. Be prepared to not have internet access in community.

Housing:
• Following 11 weeks of Pre-Service Training where all Trainees live with a host family, all Volunteers are required to live with a host family in their community of service for 3 months, totaling 6 months of required homestay with a family. Volunteers are expected to adjust to the host family in a respectful and thoughtful manner.
• Conditions in rural areas can be very basic- i.e. you may have to use a latrine; water is not treated, etc.
• Houses and family living situations may be very rustic, and sometimes Volunteer housing does not have running water and depends on wells which may be shared with neighbors.

Work:
• Agriculture Volunteers should be able to walk and/or bike up to five miles a day as well as work in the fields under hot and humid conditions (often over 90 degrees and 70% humidity).
• Working situations range from outdoor manual labor to co-facilitating in front of a classroom.

Transportation:
• Most communities are accessible by public transportation, but some will require up to a 10k (~6 miles) walk or bike ride to the closest bus station or main road where public transportation runs.

Food:
• The Paraguayan diet is heavily based on meat therefore it can be challenging for vegetarians. The diet is also very high in carbohydrates - many meals involve more than one starch at a time, for example manioc and pasta or manioc and rice. Manioc and meat are eaten at least once a day almost every day. Fruits are available by season. Most communities have access to tomatoes, onions and green peppers; but have limited or no access to other vegetables. Many Volunteers have gardens in order to increase access to vegetables. Many Volunteers do not have access to a supermarket near their community. Please be prepared to have a routine diet that does not depend on access to a supermarket.

Serving in Paraguay

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Paraguay: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, health, and safety -- including health and crime statistics -- in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Post encourages couples to apply and they will be assigned to the same community but have distinct work plans. Therefore, your partner must qualify and apply for one of the following positions:
Community Environmental Promoter
Agriculture Sciences Promoter

Couples will live together with a host family during Pre-Service Training but may be separated for certain field-based activities if they are in different project sectors. During service, couples will live together with the same host family. If couples are in different sectors they will be participating in training in separate locations for up to a week at a time during pre-service training and in-service training events.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.


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