Environmental Education Volunteer

Before You Apply

You can only have one active Peace Corps Volunteer application, so choose a position that best fits your skills and interest. You have the opportunity to tell us if you’d like to be considered for other openings and more about the ones that interest you most! See application process

Project Description

The Community Environmental Conservation (CEC) project is focused on supporting environmental education in schools, promoting environmental conservation practices at the community level, as well as life skills, and gender and youth empowerment for community members and schools. Volunteers will be seen as role models to youth and adults alike. They will work in schools with teachers and students on specific environmental themes based on their educational background and experience as well as addressing the needs identified by community members.

Communities are located in areas of the country with high environmental priority such as protected areas, buffer zones, and important river watersheds, including the Panama Canal watershed. Volunteers will work at the community level creating or strengthening groups (youth and adults) with a focus on their environmental needs.

Through their work with youth groups, Volunteers will develop opportunities to mentor students and youth in leadership, life skills, promote positive environmental stewardship, and encourage civic participation. Additionally, Volunteers will actively work to create after-school programs and support youth in various activities.

Through their work with adult groups, Volunteers will 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 (solar panels). They will also work with government agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations to develop sustainable living strategies and techniques that allow community members to live in their communities while conserving their ecosystems and natural resources.

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

Competitive candidates will demonstrate the following skills:

• 3 months experience working in environmental science, environmental education or related field
•Experience leading formal (in schools) and non-formal environmental education activities, training teachers, working with youth groups, organizing or initiating environmental awareness activities (e.g. recycling campaigns)
• Environmental education teacher experience or degree
• 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 preferred
• Conversational Spanish Language Skills
• Public speaking and presentation skills
• High level of self-initiative and self-direction, mixed with a good sense of humor.

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 need to demonstrate an Intermediate-mid level of oral and written proficiency in Spanish for community placement by the end of Pre-Service Training.

Living Conditions

Volunteers will live in a Spanish-speaking community (100-4000 members) in rural or semi-urban settings. They may live in a common Panamanian style home made of concrete block and cement floors or in a wood structure with dirt floors, depending on the level of development of the community. Most communities have regular to semi-regular electricity and potable water, but in some, services such as potable water and sanitation may be very basic. Some communities will not have electricity but solar panels can be purchased in Panama or a community member/the local store may offer charging at a price. Some communities will not have potable water but Volunteers will receive training on how to treat their water.

Peace Corps/Panama examines each community before selection to ensure that basic health and safety criteria are met. Volunteers will be required to live with a host-family during their first three months of service. After these three months, they 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, plantains, yucca (cassava), and corn. Rice and beans (kidney beans, lentils, and black-eyed peas) is the staple dish. Corn is served in many guises but is usually ground, boiled, or fried. Sancocho is a traditional dish (chicken broth) prepared with a variety of vegetables and chicken. Most rural areas have an array of fruits available, including mangoes, 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. Larger towns and cities have at least one restaurant that will be familiar, such as McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway, or Dairy Queen.

Some Volunteers are vegetarians, but few Panamanians follow these diets. Many Volunteers start a garden in their communities, and sometimes buy food in Panama City or a provincial capital. Most provincial capitals have supermarkets where Volunteers can buy a wide variety of foods and imported goods.

Computer, Phone and Internet Access:
Internet access in Panama is spreading. All provincial capitals and other large towns have internet cafes. Connection speeds tend to be slow, but the service is reasonably priced and otherwise reliable. Internet access for Volunteers is available at the Peace Corps/Panama office. Peace Corps Panama does not provide Volunteers with a cellular phone or data but Panama offers many cheap data plans. Almost all Volunteers bring a computer from the United States to use in Panama. Many Volunteers also bring an unlocked cellular phone from the United States or buy one in country. If you choose to bring electronics, it is your responsibility to maintain and insure them.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Panama: 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

Panama is happy to accommodate cross-sector couples, as well as same-sector couples. We will identify communities with sufficient work opportunities for both Volunteers. Therefore, your partner can apply and must qualify for:

English Co-Teacher and Life Skills Facilitator, or
Environmental Education Volunteer

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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