Environmental Education Volunteer

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

Climate change impacts have been unexpectedly evident and rapid in Mexico in terms of severe weather and varying local climate. Rural communities inside or in proximity to Natural Protected Areas (NPAs) and that are dependent on natural resources and eco-system services for survival are particularly vulnerable. Conserving such natural areas while promoting socio-economic development for the communities in and around them are priorities for the Mexican government. Peace Corps Mexico’s main Mexican host agency, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), has identified priority activities for Peace Corps Volunteers in Mexico. Climate Change Education and Youth Empowerment Volunteers will focus on promoting environmental education, youth environmental organizations, and appropriate green technologies.

Volunteers in this project will focus their efforts on working with youth in their community, promoting community-based environmental education, primarily in co-facilitating environmental outreach workshops and programs, creating and/or working with existing environmental youth organizations (eco-clubs), promoting life skills, and fostering youth leadership. Volunteers will work to build environmental awareness in rural communities, often conducting environmental outreach and workshops in local schools. As part of the community-based environmental education projects, Volunteers will promote and co-facilitate community environmental activities and appropriate green technologies (eco-tecnias in Spanish). As typically low-cost, practical interventions, eco-tecnias seek to directly address some of the most basic environmental challenges faced by families living in rural communities.

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 on climate change and/or working with children/youth and at least one of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
• Five years professional work experience

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following:
• BA/BS in Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Environmental Education, or related fields
• Experience organizing and/or facilitating environmental activities
• Experience teaching environmental content to children/youth, including effective classroom management skills
• Passionate about working with children/youth inside and outside of the classroom
• Strong social/interpersonal 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).

Candidates must meet the minimum language requirements to be considered for an invitation. Candidates that have more Spanish than the minimum requirement and meet the required and desired skills for the position, are highly competitive. Spanish language is essential for a successful service. There is limited but high-quality in-person language instruction during Pre-Service Training (PST). Trainees are expected to integrate as much as possible during PST with their host-families so as to maximize exposure to Spanish through the ten-week immersion program that is PST. Every Trainee will take a Language Proficiency Interview exam at the end of their Pre-Service Training, and must achieve an ACTFL-certified level of Intermediate Mid in order to swear-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Living Conditions

The U.S. and Mexico are so interdependent and share so much more than just a border. Volunteers accepted to serve in Mexico, will have an incredible opportunity to build bridges of peace and friendship between Mexico and the U.S.

Most assignments are in central Mexico. Volunteers will either work in small rural communities or small-to-medium size towns. Volunteers placed in medium-sized towns may travel frequently to rural communities to work on local community projects and to give support to rural-based Volunteers living nearby.

In most of the central region of Mexico, and throughout the mountainous areas, it can be cold in the evening through much of the year. Daytime highs can get very hot, but a rain jacket and hat are often useful in the evenings. Layering is a good strategy year round. Mexico also has regional differences, in that some cities or towns are known as more traditional and others as more progressive. Rural areas and most small towns of Mexico are characterized by more traditional and conservative cultural and societal values. Volunteers should learn and be respectful of their practices, customs, and way of life.

Host family stays are required during the 10-week Pre-Service Training (PST) and during the first three months of service. After living with a host family for the first three months of service, Volunteers may arrange to stay with the host family if they are able to continue hosting them, or can seek other options which may include a room in a shared house, an unoccupied house for rent, or a section of a family’s house. Host families may be a two-parent family with kids, a grandmother living alone, a single parent who works all day, or any other variation of a host family based on the people who are willing and able to host a Volunteer in the community.

Mexico is very safe for Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs). PCVs will be responsible for their safety, and will receive professional training and support from Peace Corps staff to develop their own safety strategies. Communities and host families are vetted to increase the probability of safe and secure service, but incidents do happen. When they do, Peace Corps provides the highest quality support to victims of crime. For safety and in order for staff to coordinate emergency responses, Peace Corps worldwide policy requires that PCVs report their whereabouts to Peace Corps every time they spend the night outside of their community. Failure to do so may result in administrative separation from Peace Corps service.

Peace Corps Mexico seeks to reflect the rich diversity of the U.S. and bring diverse perspectives and solutions to development issues in Mexico. During Pre-Service Training (PST), multiple sessions and guidance will be provided to discuss diversity and inclusion. For more specific information about serving as a diverse Volunteer in Mexico and the support networks in place, please visit https://www.peacecorps.gov/mexico/preparing-to-volunteer/diversity-and-inclusion/.

SPECIAL NOTICE ABOUT CITIZENSHIP: Candidates who are either dual citizens of Mexico and the U.S. or who were born in Mexico and became U.S. citizens after 1998 are not eligible to serve with Peace Corps Mexico. Volunteer safety is of paramount importance, and the protections of U.S. citizenship promote volunteer safety. Under Mexican law, anyone born in Mexico who became a U.S. citizen after 1998 or anyone holding dual U.S. and Mexican citizenship is considered a citizen of Mexico, and not of the United States. If such an individual faced a legal, safety or other emergency situation in Mexico, the Peace Corps' ability to intervene would be limited. If you fit either of these categories, we encourage you to look at other opportunities with Peace Corps.

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

Couples Information

Mexico can accommodate couples serving together as Climate Change Education and Youth Empowerment Volunteers. Therefore, your partner must apply and qualify for the following position:

Climate Change Education and Youth Empowerment Volunteer

Couples can have a very positive and productive experience serving in Mexico. During the 10-week Pre-Service Training, couples have the option of living with the same host family or living separately in order to maximize Spanish language learning. During the first three months of service, couples live together with the same host family. After the first three months, couples may live together in a rented room inside a family’s compound or rent their own modest apartment. Some couples may encounter situations such as being asked questions about having children or being the subject of comments or jokes about being monogamous. During Pre-Service Training, staff and Volunteers address these issues and Volunteers formulate their own strategies to be resilient and adapt to such realities.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.

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