Community Conservation Promoter

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Project Description

Community Conservation Promoters live in remote indigenous communities in Guyana’s hinterland (interior) where they work with youth and adults to build their capacity to be better environmental stewards, and support the effective management and sustainable use of Guyana’s natural resources.

The project’s objectives are to:
1. Increase local teachers’ capacity for teaching youth about science and the environment.
2. Equip youth with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to be good environmental stewards.
3. Strengthen communities’ ability to assess, plan for, and manage their local natural resources sustainably and enhance resilience to climate change.

Community Conservation Promoters will work alongside local teachers in a primary school, teaching grades 3-6 where they will co-plan lessons and co-teach Guyana’s National Science Curriculum five days per week. The primary grade science curriculum focuses on the animal and plant kingdoms, environment, weather, materials, earth and space, and forces (gravity and electromagnetism). There is significant need and opportunity for infusing the teaching of the curriculum with inquiry-based methods, such as citizen science, and use of the local environment as a classroom.

Community Conservation Promoters will also will identify and work with interested community members to co-plan and co-facilitate a wildlife club for youth that will meet after school, on weekends and during school breaks. The purpose of the club is to build awareness and appreciation of the local natural world and to develop youth leadership skills. Finally, they will collaborate with youth and adults to build awareness of local environmental issues and help develop and implement activities to address them.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have an expressed interest in promoting environmental awareness in schools and communities, and one or more of the following criteria:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

Preferred candidates for the position will have:

• Bachelor’s degree or higher in biology or other scientific field
• Strong working knowledge of natural history and ecology
• Classroom teaching experience in environmental science in primary or secondary schools
• Experience developing and facilitating outdoor environmental education programs for youth in camps or clubs
• Experience in community-based, natural resource conservation (such as biodiversity inventory and monitoring, sustainable land use planning/management, eco-tourism or related field)
• Enthusiasm for living and working in remote communities in challenging conditions with limited access to technology
• Strong presentation and facilitation skills

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

English is the official language, spoken by nearly all Guyanese including indigenous people in remote communities. Other languages include Guyanese Creolese (widely spoken), and nine indigenous languages including Macushi, Wapishana, and Patomona. Community Conservation Promoters receive training in Guyanese Creolese language and culture during pre-service training, as well as a very limited introduction to the language spoken at their site. Emphasis will be placed on self-directed, immersion language learning techniques to enhance the ability to learn a local indigenous language at site, if desired (strongly encouraged).

Living Conditions

Guyana’s hinterland region is vast, varied and includes communities in savannah, forest and riverine areas. Conservation Promoters who live in remote locations are issued satellite phones, if needed, for emergency communication but may only have access to internet or cell phone until they travel out of their communities to the nearest town once a month to shop and bank.

Transportation may be by mini-bus, hired car, small plane (6-12 seats) and/or small motorized boat or canoe. Volunteers are expected to be in their communities for extended periods of time due to irregular transportation schedules and cost-prohibitive frequent travel.

Transportation and living conditions vary, but Conservation Promoters in all locations should have the ability to:
• Endure long rides on public transportation over rough terrain and/or water
• Adjust to high heat and humidity of tropical climate
• Use a latrine
• Adapt to a diet with limited availability and variety of fresh fruits and vegetables
• Fetch water by bucket from a river or community well
• Live with limited access to electricity and communication
• Walk or ride a bike long distances (2 to 10 kilometers) over uneven terrain

Promoters will live with a welcoming family during 10 weeks of training (early June – early August), and for the first five months at their assigned 2-year site (mid-August – mid-January). The Homestay is an integral part of the Peace Corps Guyana program which helps achieve the goal of intercultural exchange. The Volunteer will have a bedroom in a single family home and share common living areas, including living room, kitchen/dining areas and bathroom or latrine. The family helps prepare the Volunteer to serve safely and productively in their community by supporting their understanding of cultural norms, introducing them to fellow community members and teaching them about day- to-day life.

After the homestay, Conservation Promoters have the option to pursue other housing that meets Peace Corps Guyana’s criteria, if available. Please note that independent housing may not be available in all communities and that some Volunteers may need to live with host families throughout their service.

Professional dress and behavior is extremely important in schools in Guyana. School administration expects all teachers, including Volunteers, to adhere to the Ministry of Education’s Code of Conduct which includes being well-groomed, dressing professionally (slacks, belt and button-down dress shirts for men; dresses and skirts or nice slacks with blouses for women) and respecting the organizational structure. Guyanese teachers are viewed as role models in the community and are cautioned by the Ministry to display publicly acceptable behaviors when not in school. Volunteers will also be held to this standard as they live and dwell in the local communities.

As all Conservation Promoters serve in schools, annual leave must be taken during official Guyanese school breaks (Christmas, Easter, and summer (July/August) vacations) and Guyanese national holidays.

Conservation Promoters who serve successfully in Guyana are open-minded, flexible, emotionally mature and very resilient. They deal well with ambiguity and isolation and are proactive in an unstructured setting. They are culturally competent and show respect by following cultural norms.

While Volunteers of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity have served successfully in Guyana, it is important to note that Guyana has restrictive laws that target certain sexual acts. Volunteers will need to be mindful of Guyanese law and cultural norms, and use their best judgment to determine how to approach sexual orientation and gender identity in the country and within their host communities. Peace Corps Guyana staff and currently-serving Volunteers will address this topic during training and identify support mechanisms to help Volunteers who may experience a lack of openness and acceptance during their service.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Guyana: 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

Guyana cannot accommodate couples within the same sector for the Environment sector. Therefore, your partner must qualify and apply the following:

Adolescent Health Promoter

Peace Corps Guyana will place couples at neighboring sites (not more than 30 minutes apart). Although a couple will share living arrangements, each individual is expected to work in his/her own school and community and is strongly encouraged to have his/her own Peace Corps experience.

Couples will be placed together with a host family during pre-service training (first 10 weeks) and during the first five months at site. We strongly believe the host family option supports Volunteers’ safety and community integration. The host family situation is typically one bedroom within a family’s home.

We cannot guarantee a particular type of living arrangement, and expect Volunteers to be flexible and adaptable. After the first five months of service, Volunteers may live in independent housing that meets Peace Corps Guyana’s safety and security criteria. Independent housing is however not available in all communities.

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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