| Forestry training manual for the Africa region |
|Training program overview|
The general purpose of this training program is to prepare potential Peace Corps Forestry Volunteers for service in Africa. It includes cross cultural as well as technical training to insure that trainees will not only be competent in their technical abilities but have confidence in their ability to transfer skills after placement in country. The training is experiential and gives practice time for skill building. Because of the fact that most Forestry Volunteers will be doing extension work after placement, we recognized the need to train in areas of communication, cultural awareness, and community development as part of the Volunteer role.
The participants do not always see the value of the communications, cultural awareness and community analysis (which they perceive as sociology) exercises. We went through difficult times in the pilot training program getting the trainees to understand the concept of extension work and the skills necessary to be effective extension Volunteers. To have technical skills alone is unsatisfactory the ability to transfer these skills is a necessary prerequisite for the extension Volunteer. Discomfort with exploring feelings associated with human interaction and resistance to learning interaction skills are, for the most part, due to a lack of awareness rather than insensitivity to the needs of the prospective host country on the part of the trainees.
The introduction to practical forestry technology starts with the establishment of a nursery that the trainees complete on the training site. Practice in tree handling, transporting and planting are part of the technical training. The trainees learn how to pace, make catchments and transplant trees. They are responsible for special projects such as, rustic transit assembling, planning and implementing irrigation systems, compost heap start-up and vegetable gardening. They then pass along the skill they have learned to the other trainees. In the technical aspects of training, the participants conduct research and prepare reports on agro-forestry and ecology concerns. They conduct interviews with local people and practice extension techniques. At the end of the training all reports and write-ups are made into a forestry handbook called the "Trainees' Manual. for use by participants during their Peace Corps service.
Starting almost immediately, and throughout the period of training, the participants conduct some sessions or parts of sessions and are responsible for content and delivery of certain exercises, i.e., making a diameter tape, lesson plans, insect collection, etc. This provides the trainees with experience in making presentations, skill transference and assuming responsibility as extensionists.
A week long field trip is conducted during the fifth week of training. The purpose of this field trip is to give the trainees practice in forestry extension using techniques discussed in the training exercises. In our pilot training program, this was accomplished by visiting the Papago Indian Reservation for several days. While on the reservation, the trainees talked with the Indians, helped plant trees, taught children to plant trees and told people where trees were available should they want to plan more. During the field trip they also wont to a citrus nursery for instruction in budding and grafting. In addition, the trainees visited a desert museum to see the ecological displays and were given a tour of the Arboretum in Superior, Arizona. During and after field exercises, the trainees discussed their observations and tried to anticipate conditions at their Peace Corps sites in Africa.
During week six, emphasis is placed upon the technical planning which will be undertaken by the Volunteer at his/her work site. Attention is also focused on culture chock and communicating with counterparts and host country officials through the use of role plays, simulations, skits and report writing.
In implementing the sequences of technical and interaction training, it is important that the participants understand that the initial review of the technical aspects of forestry will he new to some of the trainees. For those who are knowledgeable in the technical components of forestry, the program provides an opportunity to help others understand and practice transferring skills.
The identification and development of technical and intereaction skills and areas of personal growth will be useful in the participants' role as Peace Corps Volunteers. The identification of areas of accomplishments are also used in the process. Consideration of topics such as the "Role of the Peace Corps Volunteer in Forestry Extension Work" and "The Role of the Volunteer in Development" stimulates thoughts that could find practical application in the Volunteers' work.
As a special project, one of the trainees conducts a language lesson every day. These lessons are not intended to make trainees proficient in a language but rather to alleviate some of the anxieties that many trainees have about learning a language. Additionally, the trainees practice traditional greetings both upon meeting someone and at departure. The training staff models this behavior from the first day of training.
Finally, the participants are made aware from the first cession that they are responsible for their own learnings. What we have done in this training program is to provide the opportunity for their educational enhancement. It is not possible to develop a training program specific to every site where Volunteers will be placed in Africa, and it is therefore up to
the trainee to gather as much data as possible about his/her prospective host country and work site. It is hoped that this will help make each participant's learning specific for his/her own use.