Jeannie Skalsky - Dominican Republic Forestry

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By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, June 23, 2001 - 1:44 pm: Edit Post

Jeannie Skalsky - Dominican Republic Forestry

Jeannie Skalsky - Dominican Republic Forestry

Jeannie Skalsky - Dominican Republic Forestry

Jeannie Skalsky Dominican Republic Forestry

I am originally from Kansas, grew up on a small wheat farm in the middle of podunckville with the nearest town having about 100 people in it. I graduated in 1994 from Kansas State University with an undergrad B.S. degree in Biology and an emphasis in microbiology. In 1995, having seen the ocean for only 3 hours total in my life before, I flew to Miami Florida for staging to depart for the island nation of the Dominican Republic. My site is located in the northeast part of the country, in the provence of Maria Trinidad Sanchez, "near" the pueblo of Nagua. Nagua is a coastal fishing town and also the provincial captial and has electricity, bus stops and a fax machine. The community where I lived is 1 1/2 to 2 hours by pickup truck away from town at the end of a dead end road. From there, it was a 1/2 hour hike to my house. (This is all in the dry season, all bets are off in the rainy season.) There is no road, no electricity and no running water in my campo (village) but an overabundance of good hearted friendly people who became my family. My job was as an Agroforesty Extension Volunteer. Essentially, with the aide of the German government, I assisted in constructing and running a community tree nursery to provide native trees and fruit trees for agricultural and reforestation efforts. A seemingly simple task for people here in the United States, it was an overwhelmingly huge challenge in my site. The DR is one of the only nations in the world that still has laws stating that the government owns all trees in the country, no matter if you planted the tree yourself on your own land. As such, it is illegal to cut down trees with out the express permission of the Department of Forestry, a branch of the army. The task of convincing people to plant the trees in the first place is therefore a bit of a challenge. But, in the end, the nursery was built, my German counterpart and I deemed it a success and my two years ended in 1997.

Peace Corps is one of those American ideas that is truely great. The goal, unwritten as it is, is to go out and save the world. What I discovered during my service is that I was not going to save the world, but I was going to save myself. Not to say that it was easy. It is by far the most difficult two years of my life, and also the best two years. It is difficult to explain what the experience was like or what it meant without sounding cheesy. Let's just put it this way, those two years are the single most important years of my life and continue to transform me into who I am today.

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Story Source: Texas A&M

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Dominican Republic; Forestry



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