Volunteer Assignments

 

1. Tallal Hassan (Harvesting, Storage, and Efficiency of Water Usage) The assignment focused on training in rainwater harvesting systems, water storage, distribution and efficient use in production systems.

2. Dave Roberts (Integrated Agricultural Production Systems) For this topic, voluntary work in training on the various techniques of integrating systems such as intercropping, forestry, agroforestry, integrated production systems and farm animals was done.

3. Anne Dare (Management of Waste Water) This assignment trained farmer organizations in the management of wastewater, such as bio-digesters, bioremediation, reuse in irrigation, seeking to reduce the impact of production processes on the resource and increase efficiency in their use.

4. Michael Morrow (Marketing Community Supported Agriculture) Promotion of a local food system, investigation of feasibility, and recommendations on steps for establishing a direct to consumer local market system for small farmers and processors.

5. Mathilde Paino (Soils and the Nutrient Cycle) Worked on issues of cycles of decay and transformation of soil nutrients, biomass production and its use for different purposes within the farm.

6. Cris Derusha (Youth Agriculture Clubs and Opportunities) This assignment developed local youth leadership potential for agriculture and food production.

7. Carmen Derusha (Agricultural Producer Organizational Capacity and Planning) This assignment was to work with the host organizations to motivate new organization and planning process from the perspective of local capacities and intergenerational inclusion to ensure that organizations develop basic planning schemes.

8. Andrew Martin (Mature cheese) The objective for Andre’s assignment was to work with farmers to identify needs in the milk production system in order to make mature cheeses. Teach basic techniques for the mature cheese production according to the context of small farmers of the area. 

9. Marisa Benzle (Soil Organic Management and Food Production) To promote sustainable family farm production, teach people how to identify the bio-indicators, to the health of the agro-ecosystem. The focus on horticulture should promote options for diversifying horticultural vegetable and herb production, considering tomato, onion, basil, cilantro, carrot, and other potential crops for family consumption (added nutrition) and for sale, to increase income.

10. Steve Engelking (Small Farms Conference Planning and Livestock Management) Steve focused on best practices and issues in planning for a small farms conference. Assessing farmers’ livestock practices.

11. Tommy Creswell (Plant Disease Diagnostic Capacity) Taught participants procedures and lab techniques to identify plant diseases. It was a strategic contribution by the project to improve the capability in the region and to generate a network between professionals linked to plant pathology diagnostics.

12. Lina Rodriguez (Plant Disease Diagnostic Capacity) Taught participants procedures and lab techniques to identify plant diseases. It was a strategic contribution by the project to improve the capability in the region and to generate a network between 26 professionals linked to plant pathology diagnostics.

13. Michael Morrow (Market Assessment for Local Food Chain) Michael worked with Alexander Cardona. His objective was to support the logistical planning of PROTOS, based on his experience with the Hoosier Harvest Market. Michael helped PROTOS by drafting the project and work plans.

14. Alexander Cardona (IT Platform for Small Farmers Food Hub) The objective of this assignment was to improve the capacities of those individuals working with the Unillanos Microbiology Lab for plant disease diagnostics. Tom and Lina worked with samples of local diseases in order to support the local farming community. Based on the volunteers’ recommendations, new equipment was purchased and lab workers improved their techniques for identifying fungi and working with equipment.

15. Amanda Dickson (Information & Account Management for Small Farms) The objective of this assignment was to encourage farmers to keep account records of their farms. She worked with 37 farmers and taught them basic concepts of record keeping, incomes, expenses, outcomes, costs and investments records. The challenge for this assignment was that though the farmers are interested in account management, they are used to keeping their accounts in their head and have little education.

16. Silvana Pietrosemoli (Outdoor Pig Production) Silvana Pietrosemoli worked with several farmers to improve/increase the use of pigs in other farm processes (manure as fertilizer and soil tillage with pigs). Silvana visited farms to show them examples of outdoors pig productions design. Also, Silvana explained the importance of local forage for animal nutrition. On this last point, several farmers have adopted Silvana’s recommendations. They are planting new crops or increasing the amount of area for farmed for feed. The farmers are also using pig manure to grow their crops.

17. William Nichols (Business & Financial Plans) William worked with the F2F team to develop a business and financial plan for PROTOS. During his assignment, William worked with the F2F team, master’s students, farmers and municipal leadership.

18. Leah Joyner (Agrotourism) The objective of this assignment was to improve the use of natural resources in the agritourism practices of the area’s farmers. Leah worked with farmers on their farms to teach them concepts and practices to improve their agritourism services without damage the environment.

19. Jonathon Day (Agrotourism) This assignment worked on agritourism planning. Jonathon worked with farmers, municipal representatives, and local institutions. He visited several farms with agritourism activities and he taught them how to organize the tourism and their services, based on sustainable principals.

20. Michelle Fried (Healthy Foods) Michelle Fried conducted a healthy foods workshop, highlighting the use of local foods, biodiversity and natural resources to human nutrition and health. Several farmers are starting to use new plants in their cooking—such as Bore (Alocasia macrorrhiza) and leaves of plants like yucca (Cassava)—that they did not previously known were edible.

21. James Young (Seed Saving) The objective of this assignment was to improve the techniques of seed saving and to increase the use of local seeds in the farms. James worked with producers to explain the basic concepts of pollination and seed formation as well as types of seeds. James demonstrated several treatments for seed saving—hot water, winnowing, and quality selection. 

22. Matthew Rubbin (Cocoa) Matt taught farmers the principals and basic techniques of 27 adding value to cacao. Matt taught both a theoretical session—where he explained the characteristics of cacao beans and the differences between varieties—and worked in the kitchen. The last two days of his assignment, Matt gave hands on demonstrations about quality control and how to add value to cacao. As a result of this training Chocoartesano has improved their production process by including a filter and changing their roasting and milling process.

23. Andres Crecelius (Market Niches) The objective of this assignment was to develop the rural businesses’ connection to market opportunities. Andrew conducted a workshop about market niches and related concepts—such as business plans, marketing strategies, etc. The majority of his time was spent working directly with the farmers to teach them the basics of marketing plans and business plans.

24. Heather Fabries (Responsible Consumption) With a draft business plan and a partial financial plan, Heather worked to strengthen the PROTOS business plan and finish the financial plan. She also developed the outline of a marketing plan after working with stakeholders and farmers.

25. Richard Beckort (Organic Vegetable Production) The objective of this assignment was to encourage the use of organic techniques in vegetable production. Richard worked with farmers that had some experience with vegetable production to address the common problems of pests, diseases and plant nutrition.

26. Jorge Lugo (Soil Conservation) The objective of this assignment was to educate the farmers on soil conservation, and soil diagnostic techniques to identify soil conditions. Jorge Lugo held two three-day workshops; one in Puerto López and one in Lejanias. The workshops were hands on field work and demonstrations testing soil pH, identifying soil resources, and how to take soil samples. The outcome with soil conservation efforts will lead to increased crop production, sustainability, and market value.

27. Jeffrey Stuart (Pest Control) The objective of this assignment was to educate the farmers on how to identify pests and beneficial insects on their farm, how to control pests without the use of harsh chemicals, and how to implement pest-monitoring systems. The assignment recommended the development of communication and training material distributed to farmers to educate them on the pesticides, usage, safety, etc.

28. Ricky Foster (Pest Control) The objective of this assignment was to educate the farmers on how to identify pests and beneficial insects on their farm, how to control pests without the use of harsh chemicals, and how to implement pest-monitoring systems. The assignment recommended the development of communication and training material distributed to farmers to educate them on the pesticides, usage, safety, etc.

29. Jerry Shafer (Market Strategies for Responsible Consumption) The objective of this assignment was to visit numerous smallholder farmers and local food networks to strengthen their relationships and devise a marketing method to support PROTOS. Jerry visited many different smallholder producers and potential tourism destinations. Nine different producers were visited ranging from tourism destinations to small-scale production of specialty cakes, chocolate, and natural yogurt. The recommendation for each site differed based on their needs and capabilities (economic and technologic). Jerry further recommended action items for the producers as a whole to move towards an online marketing strategy (PROTOS). 

30. Lucas Roosa (Port Processing) The objective of this assignment was to educate farmers and local meat processors on food safety practices and environmental 28 cleanliness in both the raising of pork and the manufacturing facilities. Recommendations were made on how to keep work environments clean, best practices for manufacturing such as testing meat temperature to ensure no biological contamination, proper methods to prepare and cut the meat for increased tenderness and flavor, and the importance of proper refrigeration and a clean water supply.

31. Ellen Geisler (Beekeeping) The objective of this assignment was to educate and train the farmers on proper beekeeping activities and help to improve the production of honey for market. Ellen held hands on sessions in each of the areas, but those in the La Cabaña are more knowledgeable in practice and thus felt more at ease. A concern is the smaller farmers may not be able to afford the necessary equipment (protective clothing, harvesting equipment, etc.) and therefore may not be as successful, unless they form an association and share cost and equipment.

32. David Wilson (PUP Manufacturing) The objective of the assignment was to assist Unillanos to develop prototypes and strategies to equip smallholder farmers with the technology and equipment to increase agricultural productivity. Tyler, David, and John spent a month in country on the assignment to build a prototype AgRover.

33. John Lumkes (PUP Manufacturing) The objective of the assignment was to assist Unillanos to develop prototypes and strategies to equip smallholder farmers with the technology and equipment to increase agricultural productivity. Tyler, David, and John spent a month in country on the assignment to build a prototype AgRover.

34. Tyler Anselm (PUP Manufacturing) The objective of the assignment was to assist Unillanos to develop prototypes and strategies to equip smallholder farmers with the technology and equipment to increase agricultural productivity. Tyler, David, and John spent a month in country on the assignment to build a prototype AgRover.

35. Brian Greer (Youth Organizational Development) The objective of this assignment was to promote host organizational and leadership by promoting youth engagement in agriculture. Brian visited two separate sites and discussed the importance of agriculture and the “big picture” it plays in the economic growth of the community. He also encouraged the youth to form organizational agriculture communities, such as 4-H.

36. Bradley Smith (Good Storage Practices) The focus of this assignment was to teach the farmers the importance of the humidity and crop moisture during the storage (corn, cocoa and coffee). Bradley worked to support the farmer in the use of basic technologies like hygrometers or other basic techniques available locally, and also explained to them the basic rules and conditions for good crop storage (materials, hermetic conditions, light, temperature, environment humidity, etc.).

37. Trisha Wagner (Best Practices to Increase Milk Quality) The objective of this assignment was to explain to the farmers the relationship between milk production factors and the quality of the milk. Trisha also worked to help farmers improve their milking practices, as well as demonstrate simple indicators of milk quality and the understanding of general milk quality indicators.

38. Stephanie Montalban (Cheese production and milk quality) This volunteer was fielded and worked hand-in-hand with Trisha Wagner’s assignment on milk quality. Together, they stressed the importance of the quality of milk affects the quality of cheeses. They educated producers on sanitary improvements that comply with regulations and recommended improvements to their infrastructure and helped to develop the technical knowledge for the organizations to develop new types of cheeses.

39. Tiffanie Stone (Youth Engagement – Organizational Development) This assignment was developed to promote host organizational and leadership development, improve host capacity to develop workable plans and support hosts to create plans for agriculture related projects. Tiffanie held interviews with youth groups to discuss leadership issues and conducted team-building and leadership activities. They held discussions how to develop platforms to use for engaging the rural youth.

40. Tyler Anselm (Solar Dryers) The objective of this assignment was to improve the knowledge of farmers on solar drying and drying techniques, and help build solar dryers with the participating farmers. Tyler taught the farmers how to build a solar dryer using locally sourced materials and how to properly dry various products, such as fruits.

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