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Posts tagged: Peace Corps

USDA and Peace Corps Team Up in Screwworm Eradication Efforts in Panama

Peace Corps Volunteers receiving training on screwworm surveillance program from APHIS employees in Panama.

Peace Corps Volunteers receiving training on screwworm surveillance program from APHIS employees in Panama.

Over the past few months, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), as part of the U.S. Panama Commission for Eradication of Screwworm, has started to partner with Peace Corps Volunteers in Panama to enhance their field operations surveillance program, and outreach and awareness efforts for New World screwworm. These operations are being carried out among the rural population of Panama, which is a critical component for maintaining the screwworm-free barrier.

The New World screwworm are parasites to warm-blooded animals, including humans. Female screwworm are attracted to and lay their eggs in exposed flesh wounds.  After eggs hatch, larvae burrow and feed on flesh, causing severe tissue damage and may even be lethal to the host. Screwworm was eradicated from the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Curacao and Central America using the Sterile Insect Technique: Sterile male flies are released in massive numbers to mate with females in field populations. The mated female flies then lay non-viable eggs, leading to a decrease and subsequent eradication of the screwworm field fly population. The Commission is maintaining the screwworm barrier at the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia, through preventive release of sterile flies and field surveillance, in order to mitigate the risk of screwworm northward migration from South America. Read more »

Painting American Agriculture by Numbers

2013 is the International Year of Statistics. As part of this global event, every month this year USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will profile careers of individuals who are making significant contributions to improve agricultural statistics in the United States.

I arrived at my present position, an agricultural statistician responsible for analyzing demographic data, by a rather circuitous route. I majored in History and German at Rice University in Houston, Texas. I knew I wanted to explore a different society and see another part of the world, so after I graduated from college, I joined the Peace Corps.  I was stationed in Cameroon for two years. That experience gave me a strong desire to be involved in international development activities. After returning to the United States, I attended graduate school at the University of Illinois and Stanford University, where I obtained degrees in Agricultural Economics. My studies involved several statistics courses, so when my interests turned closer to home, I was able to find a position with the National Agricultural Statistics Service using those skills I had gained along the way. Read more »

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Find a Home at USDA

Caitrin Martin’s volunteer work in Senegal served as the inspiration for the Peace Corps 50th Anniversary print. Photo courtesy of the Peace Corps.

Caitrin Martin’s volunteer work in Senegal served as the inspiration for the Peace Corps 50th Anniversary print. Photo courtesy of the Peace Corps.

Peace Corps volunteers find themselves in a variety of locales covering a wide range of issues related to agriculture, education and health. And when they return, many of them have the opportunity to apply their Peace Corps experience to their professional lives back in the States. USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) boasts a large number of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) working in a variety of program areas from scientific affairs to capacity building. In honor of Peace Corps Month and the 50th anniversary of the Corps, it is fitting to look at some of the Agency’s RPCVs and how their service in the Peace Corps has benefited their work at USDA. Read more »