Community Environmental Conservation Promoter
Though often voted as one of the happiest countries in the world, Panama is also a land of mixed realities. Its strategic geographic location influenced the construction of the Panama Canal, which accelerated immigration and led to Panama’s diverse population. Panama is known as an international logistics, banking, and tourism hub. For these and other reasons, the isthmus holds distinct social and economic realities which affect and impact structural inequalities.
Panama is connected to the worldwide efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change effects by promoting sustainable development throughout the communities where Volunteers are invited to serve. In the Community Environmental Conservation (CEC) program, Volunteers collaborate with community members to assess environmental needs, promote environmental conservation practices, and support youth to develop life skills including: self-awareness, critical thinking, creative thinking, decision-making, problem solving, effective communication, interpersonal relationships, and empathy. Volunteers also support environmental activities in the local school, collaborating with teachers and students to co-plan and co-facilitate environmental themes as addressing the needs identified by community members through hands-on activities outside of the classroom.
Volunteers serve in communities located in areas of the country with high environmental conservation priorities related to protected areas, buffer zones, and important river watersheds, including the Panama Canal watershed. Volunteers collaborate with the community to strengthen groups (youth and adult) with a focus on their environmental needs.
Work partners and Volunteers co-develop identified opportunities for local youth in leadership and life skills, promote positive environmental stewardship, and encourage civic participation. Youth in leadership and life skills are the foundation of achieving environmental stewardship. Additionally, Volunteers support community-led after-school programs and youth in various activities, including the promotion of youth clubs, facilitation of environmental hands on activities, and community environmental events.
Work partners and Volunteers co-develop environmental activities such as organic gardening, nursery/reforestation, and waste management, and promote the use of appropriate technologies like eco-stoves and renewable energy (e.g., solar panels). In collaboration with strategic partners, Volunteers support the development of sustainable living strategies and techniques that promote conservation of the local ecosystem and natural resources.
During service, Peace Corps Panama provide learning experiences to strengthen Volunteers’ general and technical competencies, such as: community conservation techniques, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and positive youth development. Volunteers are expected to self-assess and self-evaluate their development of these competencies. This will positively impact the Volunteer’s experience and service to the community.
The most important resource Volunteers will need to be successful is the ability to communicate ideas clearly and to develop strong interpersonal relationships. Creativity in using locally available resources will also be important. Volunteers must be prepared to be proactive, self-driven, and to motivate others.
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.
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
Competitive candidates will demonstrate the following skills:
• Bachelor of Science/Associate degree in Forestry, Watershed Management, Natural Resources, Environmental Science, Ecology, or other related fields
• 3 months experience working in environmental science, environmental education or related field
• Experience leading non-formal environmental education activities, co-planning/co-teaching with teachers/ school personnel, working with youth groups, organizing or initiating environmental awareness activities (e.g. RRR campaigns)
• Working experience in one or more of the following: climate change/renewable energy, biology, marine biology, natural resources management, reforestation, organic gardening, waste management, agro-ecology
• Basic teaching experience facilitating activities outside of the classroom setting
• Experience with public speaking or facilitating classes/workshops/presentations
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).
Volunteers must demonstrate an Intermediate-mid level of oral and written proficiency in Spanish for community placement by the end of the 10-week Pre-Service Training.
Intermediate-mid level speakers are expected to be able to: create with language; start, sustain, and close simple conversations at the sentence level and connect them. Ask questions and answer simple questions.
Housing: Volunteers are placed in non-indigenous communities. Houses in Panama vary among communities, and may include: simple concrete block walls and cement floors; stilted wood houses; adobe structures with mud floors; and/or furnished apartments. Communities generally have basic utilities and infrastructure, including cell phone signal, treatable water, and sometimes electricity. The reliability of these services varies community to community and may be impacted by seasonal changes. All Volunteers receive training on how to treat their drinking water should they need to do so. Solar panels and other means to charge or run electronics can be acquired in Panama. Peace Corps Panama assesses each community before selection to ensure that basic health and safety criteria are met. Volunteers are required to live with a host family during their first three months of service. After three months, Volunteers may opt to live in pre-approved local housing that meets Peace Corps Panama’s housing criteria.
Food and Diet: The Panamanian diet varies according to the region and the ethnic makeup of the population. Most often, the diet consists of rice, beans, bananas or plantains, yucca (cassava), and corn. Rice and beans (kidney beans, lentils, and black-eyed peas) is a staple dish. Corn is served in many stews but is usually ground, boiled, or fried. Sancocho is a traditional soup prepared with root vegetables and chicken. Most rural areas have many fruits available, including mangos, papayas, pineapples, avocados, oranges, and guanábanas (soursops). The availability of garden vegetables, such as tomatoes, sweet peppers, and cucumbers, varies according to the region and the season. The most common meats are chicken, pork, and beef, which are often deep-fried or stewed. Fish is available sporadically in coastal regions and riverside communities.
Panamanians frequently follow diets based on their region, culture, and seasonally available produce. Depending on the Volunteer’s diet, they may be inclined to start a garden, plan for trips to larger cities to acquire products at supermarkets, or adjust to locally available options. Larger towns and cities have at least one chain restaurant that will be familiar, such as McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway, or Dairy Queen.
Computer, Phone, and Internet Access: All host communities must have reliable cell phone signal. The availability of internet access (Wi-Fi) will vary in speed and reliability depending on the geographic location of the community. Volunteers may access Wi-Fi through the local public school, a community internet center, or a private internet cafe in a larger town. In Panama City, Volunteers have access to Wi-Fi, desktop computers, and printers at the Peace Corps Panama office. Peace Corps Panama does not provide Volunteers with a cell phone or data plan, but many inexpensive data plans are available in Panama. Many Volunteers bring an unlocked cell phone from the United States or buy one in country. Should you choose to bring electronics, it is your responsibility to maintain and insure them.
Serving in Panama
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Panama: 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.
Panama cannot accommodate cross-sector couples. Therefore your partner must apply and qualify for:
Community Environmental Conservation Promoter
During Pre-Service Training, couples live in the same home and are requested to speak Spanish with each other and the host family to improve language learning. During their service, they will live together first with a host family and then on their own. Couples will be placed in medium to large communities, to ensure sufficient work is available for both Volunteers.
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 couple 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/.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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