|Forestry Training Manual: Inter-America Region (Peace Corps, 1986)|
This training program comes at the end of in-country cross cultural training. It is scheduled at this time so that the volunteer gets exposure to the culture and people of host country and some familiarity with the conditions present at his/her work site.
As stated in a previous section, when planning ahead the setting for training is important. A center located in the countryside is important not only because that is where forest land is most likely to be found, but because it cuts down on having to contend with trainees wanting to do other things, i.e. going to movies, dancing, etc. In other words, the country has minimum distractions.
Available time is limited during the training. In selecting a site consider as critical, the "time lost factor" in taking care of life activities such as getting food, bathing and sleeping. The atmosphere of the training site directly effects participants' attitude. If they have to spend time coping with the facilities, they are less likely to spend time productively during training.
There should not he less than 12 people in the training program. In countries where there are less than twelve people in the forestry training program they may want to decide on combining with another country with similar geographic and climatic conditions and similar skill needs to save on the cost of training. If the group size is small the program becomes "incestuous." If the group size is too large-, the facilitators do not have enough time during sessions to offer individual assistance, especially for the sessions identifying communication skills, technical skills and "hands on" activities. Preferred group size should not exceed 25 people. Should the training component exceed 25 participants you will need to allocate a co-trainer for every trainer.
This program requires one well rounded, experienced forestry technical trainer, one human interaction trainer and one administrative/technical trainer. If more than one country is involved an additional co-trainer from the country where the training is not to be held should be added to the staff. During the field trips second year forestry volunteers are included as co-trainers.
Sometimes during the small group activities several of the small groups will need the assistance of a facilitator, especially if the group is having difficulty. Once an activity is explained and the exercise begins, the facilitator "floats" from group to group to check that the activity is moving smoothly and if help is necessary. One person cannot cover all groups effectively. It is essential to have the support of another facilitator for redesign, sharing the load and providing alternatives to handling problem situations.
The trainers are the key to the training program. They create the atmosphere, set the tone and help participants achieve maximum benefit from the activities. However in the introductory session, the facilitators should make clear to the participants that each person gets out of this program whatever they put into it.
As part of the "tone" it is important to give a clear but concise overview of the training program - what we're doing, where we're going, and why - and while conducting the session take a few minutes to explain an exercise - the direction of the exercise and how volunteers will benefit from it. We have included notes to show you how to do this.
In the previous section on "Getting Ready" we have included a long list of materials covering the 5-week long training program. At the beginning of each session there is a materials list which you should have ready before the session begins. As there are a great many materials and tools, we suggest that one trainer be in charge of all materials to see that they are not lost and that supplies are maintained and provided for each session. Also there is the one trainer that participants go to when they need materials for special projects.
There is a minimum of handouts trainees receive. Following is a list of those handouts:
Overall training design schedule,
Evaluation criteria/weekly evaluation form,
Schedule of due dates on special projects,
Technical papers and pamphlets,
In addition notebooks used for personal journals offer the participant a chance to record thoughts, insights, learnings, technical data or notes that he/she finds relevant and useful. Participants should be provided an opportunity at the end of each day to write in his/her journal.
Many of the activities involve sharing with a partner or a small group. You may be asked "Why so much sharing?" A response is that sometimes you get a different perspective about an idea or thought when you verbalize it or hear it repeated back from other people. The purpose of sharing is to add dimensions - trying to help people "stretch" and to get help and suggestions from one another.
It is up to the facilitator to create an atmosphere of trust and non-judgement that will encourage people to feel free to express themselves. In any case, early in the training process, the facilitator encourages people to share with each other, but only to the degree that each is willing to share.
As a way of determining the progress of training and obtaining information regarding necessary design adjustments or problem areas, some form of a weekly evaluation should be conducted. One way is to ask the participants to respond in writing to the weekly evaluation form on the following page.