Jeremy Terhune

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Jeremy Terhune was selected for service in Peace Corps, Panamá after a competitive application process demanding strong personal and professional skills, adaptability, and cross- cultural sensitivity. He was assigned to the Community Environmental Conservation (CEC) project and completed an intensive 12-week training program that emphasized environmental education, appropriate technologies, soil conservation, reforestation, Spanish language, cultural awareness, and participatory community analysis. Sworn in on December 19, 2002, Jeremy then lived and worked in the community of Tranquilla, located in the watershed of the Panama Canal.

Tranquilla is a small rural town populated by approximately 1,800 permanent residents, the majority of which live at a low- moderate poverty level. It is beleaguered by severe soil erosion, habitat loss, a dysfunctional aqueduct, and minimal access to electricity (approximately 2% of residents). More than a quarter of the residents cook their food using firewood; 96% of the residents do not have access to flush toilets. The elementary school has roughly 200 students and an under-equipped health center staffed by one nurse. The primary economic activities are subsistence farming and manual labor.

Completing a thorough community analysis Jeremy gained the trust of the community and began working with the Ministry of Education (MEDUCA) to provide formal environmental education for grades K-6 at the local school. He also joined forces with the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) and the Ministry of Agriculture (MIDA) to build an organic 3/4-hectare school farm. Erected entirely by students and community members, this farm developed the capacity to produce 1,200 lbs. of hulled rice, 600 lbs. of chicken meat, 150 lbs. of tomatoes, 300 lbs. of various fruits and vegetables, ranging from sugar cane to squash, on a quarterly basis. He also provided technical assistance to the "Triple C" project, created by MIDA to alleviate poor nutrition and preserve the watershed of the Panama Canal. Here he taught soil conservation methods including A-frame planting and composting.

During the community analysis, it was mentioned that the elementary school would often pass 4–5 days without access to water. To remedy this serious problem, Jeremy formed a partnership with the Ministry of Health (MINSA) and organized PTA board members to solicit and implement a $1,800.00 Small Project Assistance (SPA) Grant from U.S. AID. Coupled with an additional $400.00 petitioned from the legislator, they constructed an aqueduct that provided potable water. All community members involved were capacitated in the maintenance of the aqueduct and in basic problem solving skills to resolve any troubles that may arise.

As a result of the success obtaining funds and implementing this project, Jeremy was invited to teach his methods at a Project Development and Management Seminar. The purpose of this seminar was to orient volunteers and community counterparts towards the successful completion of SPA Grants and related projects.

In addition to soil conservation, environmental education, and environmental health, Jeremy employed his training skills in appropriate technology, successfully executing the following projects:

•The construction of 21 lorena stoves (adobe wood burning stoves) that reduced fuel-wood consumption by 50%, thereby significantly reducing negative environmental and health impacts. All participants were capacitated in the creation and maintenance of their stoves. •A solar water distillation system capable of processing 2 liters of water per 8 hrs. •A model grey water treatment system using sand, gravel, and charcoal. •A rainwater collection system designed to provide water for consumption and secondarily fill a fishpond that produces Tilapia, an important protein source. •A composting latrine system, the product of which was used in the community garden. •Jeremy constructed Panama’s first earth bag house, using recycled sacks, thatched roofing, and a wattle and daub plastering system. This facility was used as an outdoor classroom/meeting area and storage facility at the community farm.

Although not in the Sustainable Agricultural Systems (SAS) project, his sustainable designs were recognized by SAS volunteers as excellent examples of agricultural projects. Throughout his service Jeremy was the “most used” technical trainer for his sector.

Jeremy served as the president of the Seeders club. These volunteers gathered seeds and distributed information about native trees and useful plant cultivars. Fulfilling his duty as president, Jeremy collaborated with the non-profit organization “Seeds of the World” to ship a crate of 1,000 seeds to distribute in country. He also coordinated a trip to the Smithsonian Institute’s biological research station "Barro Colorado”.

Completing his regular service, Jeremy stayed on board with Peace Corps Panamá for an additional 7 months. During this period he established a relationship between his agency and the National Institute of Agriculture (INA), an agricultural trade school. After completing a participatory analysis involving INA engineers, students, and community members, he moved to the adjacent community of La Huaca, Santiago, where he formed a community-based board of directors to work with INA in the management of a 1-hectare farm. In coordination with INA, Jeremy taught them how to execute monthly work plans and facilitate technical training sessions on vermiculture, animal traction, and crop rotation.

He continued giving formal environmental education at the elementary school in the nearby community of Cañazas, and informal education to a group of 13 youths in La Huaca. He also helped plan and facilitate Appropriate Technology and Farm Planning Seminars in which volunteers and their counterparts were taught about Lorena stoves, solar cookers, organic gardening, manual water pumps, farm experimentation and management.

Jeremy has been accredited with strong communication skills in Spanish and certified by a Foreign Service Institute examiner. He scored Advanced- Low in spoken, reading, and written Spanish.