| Forestry training manual Inter-America Region |
|Training program overview|
The general purpose this training program is to prepare new in-country Peace Corps Forestry Volunteers who have lived in-country for 10 weeks and have had cultural training, language training and have experienced some forestry technical training (i.e., local species identification) and give them 5 weeks of intensive training in forest technology "hands on". This "hands on" training is designed to build confidence in technical areas and forest extension work. This training program continues to build on [earnings from Staging/CREST/CAST and in-country training in the area of communication skills building, cultural awareness, community development, and the role of the volunteer. The technical training is directed at the introductions and beginning hands on" rather than carved "how to's".
Throughout testing the pilot, participants exhibited anxiety about the communication exercises, cultural awareness exercises and community analysis (which they perceived as "sociology"). It had to he explained many times that the skills necessary to work an communities had to be practiced and the more skillful at communication, group process, and community analysis the more effective they would be as volunteers. Technical skills alone were not enough without the ability to transfer these skills to another person. The discomfort with the feelings that are associated with human interaction skills are for the most part lack of awareness rather than insensitivity to the needs on the part of the trainees.
The introduction to practical forestry technology starts with the establishment of a "vivero" (nursery) that trainees complete on the training site. Practice in handling, transporting and actual tree planting are also a part of the "hands on". thrust of the technical part of training. Trainees learn how to pace, measure and survey. They take on special projects such as, plane table building, rustic transit assembling, compost heap start-up, making of a Biltmore Stick, etc. In turn trainees who have taken on special projects teach that skill to the other trainees. In the technical aspects of training, participants conduct research and prepare reports on forestry issues. They prepare agro-forestry plans for their sites and participate in species identification projects. At the end of training all reports and write-ups are made into a forestry handbook for the participants to have during their service.
Starting in the second week of training and continuing through the third week, participants conduct some sessions and are responsible for certain exercises,
i.e., making a diameter tape, compost heap, insect collection, lesson plans, etc. This provides trainees with experience in making presentations, skill transference and assuming responsibility.
A week long field trip is conducted during the fourth week of training. The purpose of this field trip is to give trainees practice in forest extension using techniques discussed in the training exercises. This is accomplished by visiting small farmers and/or colonists, and trying to interest them in forestry projects. There is also reinforcement of [earnings in setting up a nursery by visiting several established nurseries and observing and learning applicable/relevant techniques. Further, trainees become acquainted first hand with different species and the environmental niche they occupy in the forest.
Trainees also observe the effects of deforestation, along with the advantages and disadvantages of large scale exotic plantations. Trainees will observe agricultural crops and see their potential benefits to agro-forestry projects. During and after field exercises, trainees discuss their observations and compare them to anticipated conditions at their Peace Corps service sites.
During the fifth week, emphasis is placed on technical planning which will be undertaken by the volunteer at his/her work site. Specific forestry techniques such as fruit tree grafting, insect collection, and resource identification are stressed. Further attention is focused on cultural shock and communications with counterparts and host country officials through the use of role playing.
In implementing the sequence of technical and interactions training, it is important that participants understand that the initial review of the technical aspects of forestry will he new to some of them. For those who are knowledgeable in the technical components of forestry, it is an opportunity to help others understand and practice transferring skills.
The identification and practice of skills developed and areas of personal growth will be useful in their role as Peace Corps Volunteers. The identification of areas of accomplishment may also be used in the process. Consideration of topics such as the "Role of the Peace Corps Volunteer in Forestry Extension Work" may stimulate thoughts that could find practical application in their work.
Language sessions are given regularly during training so that trainees no not lose their language skills. These sessions, troth technical and general, emphasize vocabulary, grammatical structure, and sentence construction. Conversational Spanish is spoken at meal time and during sessions. The purpose of these sessions, along with helping trainees retain their language capabilities, is to increase their language skill level during technical training.
Finally participants are made aware from the first session that they are responsible for their own [earnings. 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, and it is therefore up to the volunteer to couple his/her training with knowledge they have about their work site, thereby making their earnings specific to their sites.