Community Conservation Promoter

Project Description

Known as the Land of Many Waters, Guyana has diverse culture and is rich in biodiversity.

Peace Corps Guyana’s Environment project contributes to the Government of Guyana’s commitment to provide a better quality of life for all Guyanese, one that is derived from the country’s natural wealth such as its diversity of people and abundant natural resources including land, water, forests, mineral and aggregates, and biodiversity.

At the invitation of the government, Community Conservation Promoters work with community counterparts to promote environmental education and planning. Living and working in villages and towns along the coast, or in rural and remote communities in the hinterlands (interior) of Guyana, these Volunteers work with youth and adults to support their efforts to be better environmental stewards and support the effective management and sustainable use of Guyana’s natural resources.

Community Conservation Promoters work in the classroom, alongside local teachers in a primary school, teaching Grades 3-6. They co-plan lessons and co-teach general science classes, as part of Guyana’s National Science Curriculum five days per week. The primary grade science curriculum focuses on the following areas of science: 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 also work with interested community members to identify priorities and to co-plan and co-facilitate wildlife clubs for youth that typically meet after school, on weekends and/or during school breaks. The purpose of these club is to participate and promote awareness and appreciation of nature and to develop youth leadership skills. Finally, Volunteers collaborate with youth and adults to identify local conservation opportunities and environmental issues and support the development of plans and activities to address them.

With the impact COVID-19 has had on the Education sector in Guyana, Community Conservation Promoters may be exposed to a larger number of children whose learning skills may be below the expected grade level. These children may have suffered learning loss due to limited access to technology and to the internet as well as inconsistent supply of learning materials during the pandemic.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

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 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
OR
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following:
• Bachelor’s degree or higher in biology or other scientific fields
• Strong interest in promoting science and environmental education in school and communities
• Strong working knowledge of natural history and ecology
• Classroom teaching experience in general science and/or 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 fields)
• Strong presentation and facilitation skills

Required Language Skills

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

English is the official language of Guyana and is spoken by nearly all Guyanese including indigenous peoples in remote communities. Other languages used in the country 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 in their community. Emphasis is placed on self-directed, immersive language learning techniques to enhance Volunteers' ability to learn the local indigenous language spoken in the community where they will live and work for their 24-month service.

Living Conditions

Guyana is the only English-speaking country in South America. It lies five degrees north of the Equator, and its climate is warm and tropical throughout the year. December to January and May to June are the rainy seasons. Guyana combines a Caribbean-flavored culture on the coast, featuring a mixture of Afro- and Indo-Guyanese influences, and a variety of indigenous cultures in the vast, forested hinterland of the interior.

Most of the population lives in a long, narrow strip along the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Venezuela to Suriname. The open savannah and forests of the interior are dotted with small, indigenous communities, some of which have preserved their own language.

The country is crisscrossed by myriad rivers, and transportation to and from a Volunteer’s community may involve a mix of a minibus, hired car, small plane, motorboat, and canoe.

Many Community Conservation Promoters live and work in the inner hinterlands of Guyana. Large towns have power lines, communication infrastructure, and running water, while many rural villages rely on solar panels, latrines, and community wells. The hinterland regions are the most rural areas of the country. They are vast and varied and include communities in savannah, forest, and riverine areas. There is typically little or no cell network and internet access in communities, so most Volunteers will be issued satellite phones to use in case of emergency and to contact Peace Corps staff.

Living conditions vary, but Volunteers in all locations should have the ability to:
• Endure long rides on public transportation and over water;
• Adjust to the high heat and humidity of a tropical climate;
• Use a latrine toilet;
• Wash clothes by hand in a bucket;
• Adapt to a diet with limited availability and seasonal variety of fresh fruits and vegetables;
• Live with limited or sporadic access to electricity, phone, and internet;
• Walk or ride a bicycle long distances (one to six miles or roughly two-10 kilometers) over uneven terrain; and
• Fetch water by bucket from a river or community well.

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 (i.e. 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 even when not in school. Community Conservation Promoters will also be held to this standard as they live and interact with their host community.

While Peace Corps Volunteers of various gender expressions, gender identities, and sexual orientations 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 conversations and experiences in the country and within their host communities. Peace Corps Guyana staff are available to provide support. These topics will be addressed during Pre-Service Training and staff will help Trainees and Volunteers to identify support mechanisms, especially if they experience a lack of openness and acceptance during their service. Please refer to the Local Laws and Special Circumstances of the U.S. Department of State’s travel page for more information.

Community 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.

Serving in Guyana

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Guyana: 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

Peace Corps Guyana welcomes Volunteer couples who wish to serve together. With one partner applying to this position, the other partner must qualify and apply for the Adolescent Health Promoter position.

During the 10-week Pre-Service Training, partners may be required to live in separate communities with different host families, depending on their sectors. Following Pre-Service Training, the couple will live together with a host family during the first five months in their host community, an arrangement that will support the couple's safety and community integration. During this homestay, the couple will have their own bedroom in a single family home and share common living areas with family members, including the living room, kitchen, dining areas, and the bathroom or latrine. Peace Corps Guyana cannot guarantee a particular type of living arrangement, and expects Primary Literacy Promoters and their partners to be flexible and adaptable.

After the first five months of service, the couple may live in independent housing that meets Peace Corps Guyana’s safety and security criteria. Independent housing may not be available in all communities, and couples may need to live with host families throughout their service.

While Volunteer couples in Guyana will share living arrangements, they will have separate work sites. Couples will work at neighboring sites (not more than 30 minutes apart). Individuals are encouraged to have their own Peace Corps experience.

The Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples, and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized. Because of this, same-sex couples placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process, recruiters and placement officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities. For more information please visit: https://www.peacecorps.gov/faqs/lgbtq/.”

Medical Considerations

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


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