Community Environmental Promoter
Paraguay is home to priority ecosystems and its economy is heavily agricultural-based, with intensive use of natural resources. Due to the heavy dependence on natural resources, there is a need for a more sustainable approach.
The Environmental Education project has two objectives:
Objective 1: Increase the knowledge, skills and attitudes of youth to become effective environmental stewards.
Objective 2: Increase the adoption of practices by individuals and communities that lead to an increased number of trees.
Objective 1 works toward developing young people into future environmental stewards through environmental education with teachers in elementary schools, co-planning and co-facilitating eco-clubs, environmental days and school-based recycling, through the “Zero Trash” initiative.
Objective 2 is focused on promoting forestry, through identifying interested community members, establishing nurseries, preparing the community for receiving saplings and supporting tree planting and follow-up care, in support of the National Forestry Institute.
All work is done through collaborative efforts with community stakeholders.
More specifically, Environment Volunteers work on the following activities:
• Collaborate with primary schools (up to 9th grade) by co-designing, co-planning and co-facilitating environmental education with teachers and recycling using “Basura Cero” (Zero Trash), a behavior change-based framework which incorporates gamification to improve waste management practices.
• Co-implement with local counterpart(s) a structured eco-club (in or out of school) and other environmental events, following the Voices of Nature curriculum created by partner organization Para La Tierra.
• Collaborate with the National Forestry Institute staff and counterparts on initiating or managing a tree nursery/ies.
• Promote forestry with native species (and some fast-growth), while working with manageable solutions that address rural, low-resourced communities’ economic realities.
The National Forestry Institute leads the public sector in sustainable forestry management and has decentralized their offices to reach more communities. Collaboration with Peace Corps expands their reach and makes their work more effective. Volunteers work with communities to identify and prepare interested families to receive tree donations and support tree maintenance and care after planting. They contribute tree donations to communities, and Volunteers and counterparts rely on their staff for technical consultations.
Regarding environmental education, our partner Para la Tierra (For the Earth) works to conserve fragile habitats through research, community engagement and environmental education through the curriculum “Voices of Nature”, an evidence-based curriculum for both the school setting and eco-clubs outside of the school setting. Peace Corps Volunteers work with community members to co-implement the “Voices of Nature” curriculum in their community as a part of the formative process for young people to become effective environmental stewards and leaders.
Through collaboration with these, and other agencies, Environment Volunteers expand citizens’ access to these organizations and support both the organizations and community members’ capacity towards creating and maintaining a healthy, productive and resilient environment around them.
All Volunteers should feel comfortable working with community, teacher and youth groups as well as coordinating with local elected officials and government/non-government organization workers. Environment Volunteers are placed in communities ranging from small to mid-size rural villages to marginalized neighborhoods of urban areas. Priority eco-regions for Volunteer assignment include the Atlantic Forest and the Chaco, although Volunteer requests will be accepted from other regions and Volunteers assigned accordingly.
Climate Change Activities
As the impacts of climate change become ever more evident, the social, economic, and environmental conditions faced by local communities will become increasingly problematic, particularly for vulnerable households in low-lying areas and historically marginalized communities. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will be trained to use a participatory approach and tools to identify locally determined priorities and conditions, including those related to the impacts of climate change. The types of interventions undertaken will be guided by national and local priorities for climate change adaptation as identified in your country’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP) and those environment-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 6, 12, 13, 14 & 15) that have been identified for local action. As an Environment Volunteer, you will be trained to use this knowledge to work with government, local, and community stakeholders to mitigate some of the adverse impacts of climate change while promoting resiliency, and engaging in projects and activities that:
• strengthen the ability of vulnerable households and communities to respond to extreme weather events such as cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons;
• enhance local and community capacities for effective implementation of NAP and SDG priorities;
• reduce greenhouse gas emissions through promoting the expansion of renewable energy technologies;
• support the development of sustainable mechanisms that incorporate the “3 Rs” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) of effective solid waste management practices; and
• work with Volunteers in other sectors to integrate climate change adaptation practices into their activities (e.g., work with Health Volunteers to reduce respiratory health issues of women and girls through use of improved cook stoves; work with Education Volunteers to mitigate the impact of heat waves on local teaching or establishing tree nurseries and planting trees to reduce the time that students use in collecting firewood).
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.
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 have one or more of the following:
• At least one year of experience working in a rural area under challenging conditions
• At least one year of service/volunteer work in a community
• At least one year of experience implementing behavior change methodologies
• Interest and skills in people-focused environmental work regarding environmental education, tree planting and trash management
• Demonstrated successful experience in organizing and/or planning community events
• Background in environmental education, science, or studies
• Experience working directly in community training for environmental conservation
• Demonstrated ability to work effectively with teachers, students and youth groups as well as with local elected officials, other elementary school staff and local government workers
• Strong interest to learn an indigenous language
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 Asunción (and other large urban areas), Spanish is the most common language. However, in most semi-urban to rural areas where Environment Volunteers will be placed, Guaraní or “Jopará” (a mixture of Guaraní and Spanish) is the most common way to communicate. Therefore, Trainees/Volunteers need to learn/know both languages in order to be able to communicate and be effective. Pre-Service Training 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 benchmarks in both Spanish and Guarani. Guaraní is key to integration and ultimately your effectiveness as an Environment Volunteer. If perfecting or becoming fluent in Spanish is a main goal of Peace Corps service for you, Paraguay may not be the best fit.
• 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. Somewhere in the community there will be cell service, but it may not be at the Volunteer’s home or work location. Be prepared to not have internet access in the community.
• Following 11.5 weeks of Pre-Service Training during which all Trainees live with a host family, all Volunteers are required to live with a host family in their community for at least two months. 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).
• Houses and family living situations may be very rustic, and sometimes housing does not have running water and depends on wells which may be shared with neighbors.
• Environment Volunteers 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.
• In Paraguay, there isn’t a clear separation of personal and professional life, as many on a community level are related and personal relationships heavily influence professional relationships.
• Most communities are accessible by public transportation, but some communities will require up to a 10k (6 mile) walk or bike ride to the closest bus station or main road where public transportation picks up passengers. Depending on the public health situation in the host-country, Volunteers may be prohibited from using public transportation, or may be instructed to only use public transportation in case of an emergency. Peace Corps staff will identify two private transportation options in each community and Volunteers will be reimbursed for the use of private transportation when it is required by Peace Corps.
• 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 veg
• Most communities are accessible by public transportation, but some communities will require up to a 10k (6 mile) walk or bike ride to the closest bus station or main road where public transportation picks up passengers. Depending on the public health situation in the host-country, Volunteers may be prohibited from using public transportation, or may be instructed to only use public transportation in case of an emergency. Peace Corps staff will identify two private transportation options in each site and Volunteers will be reimbursed for use of private transportation when it is required by Peace Corps.
• 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 will live together with a host family during Pre-Service Training but may be separated for certain field-based activities. During service, couples will live together with the same host family. Your partner must qualify for and apply to:
Community Environmental Promoter
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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