News and Events

Trevor Hylton

 “I saw another side of Haiti; many productive growers growing crops with very limited resources. Some of the growers did not realize how important they were to the overall operation of the country as a whole. I gained firsthand knowledge and left with a better understanding of the day to struggles of average small scale crop producer. The students for the most part were bright, articulate and very enthusiastic.”


Home State: Florida, U.S.

Name of project: FAMU Haiti Farmer to Farmer Special Program Support Project

Country: Haiti

SPSP Grantee: FAMU

Duration of Assignment: 11 days

Summary of Volunteer Role and Assignment: Trevor was a FAMU/Multi-County Extension Agent for their Farmer-to-Farmer program at the Universite Caraibe (UC) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Trevor visited the University for two weeks during their summer break and presented techniques for vegetable gardening, planting, and soil irrigation. In an effort to ensure maximum student participation, University Caraibe decided to have a two-week on-campus summer session. The university students received training from the F2F volunteers during the first week. During the second week, the university students, with the assistance of the volunteers, provided training to Haitian farmers and school aged children during a two-day agricultural summer camp.

Volunteer Impact: As a result of Trevor’s assignment, the students and farmers are better equipped to understand the different aspects of soil irrigation and vegetable gardening. The students and farmers have been able to evaluate their soil better and have also used soil kits that were left with them during the training. The students have also successfully planted a school vegetable garden.

Sarah Master

Name: Sarah Master

Current title/profession: Chef

Current hometown: Minneapolis, MN

Areas of expertise: Culinary Arts


Name of project: Improving the Sustainability of Malian Sheep and Goat Farming Program

Volunteer Scope of Work: Small Ruminant Full Carcass Utilization, Sausage, Curing and Smoking

Location of the project: Sikasso region, Mali

Duration of assignment: 10 days

Organization that sent the volunteer: Common Pastures/Browse and Grass Growers Cooperative

The Sikasso region has higher rainfall than most other areas of Mali and some of the best agricultural land available. The region currently produces excellent fruits and vegetables in such abundance that they cannot be consumed fast enough and are regularly wasted.

Roadside stands, in full sun, are loaded with products such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggs throughout the heat of the day. Without dependable electricity and adequate refrigeration, even in cities, preservation is a challenge and not common.

Minneapolis Chef Sarah Master came to Bamako, Mali to share methods of preserving foods with chefs, staff, and students. She taught several methods of preservation including: curing, smoking, drying, and pickling of meats and similar methods for preserving fruits and vegetables. In collaboration with 3 restaurants available local foods and resources were utilized to create new menu-ready dishes.

Meat: New ways of using the entire animal (i.e., fish, lamb and goat) were explored. As an example, a whole goat was purchased at the live animal market, slaughtered, cut up, and smoked for quick sandwiches as well as using the liver to make pate for a spread. Market vegetables (e.g., carrot, okra, green pepper, and onion) were pickled to use as a condiment. Methods of preparing meats combined with vegetables were experimented with leading to a special dinner event featuring off-cuts and offal. A creative menu consisting of testicles, intestines, tongue, livers, hearts, chicken heads and feet along with vegetables was introduced to staff and delighted guests. “Best meal I have ever tasted” raved a restaurant guest from the United Nations.
Vegetables and Fruits: Fruits and vegetables are easily preserve by drying, canning and pickling. In-season baskets of ripe, fresh fruits and vegetables line the roadways. Limes readily grow in Mali and can be used to raise the acidity level for canning. Supplies needed are simple and include a heating source, stockpot, mixing bowls, knife, slotted spoon, fork, and sterilized jars with lids.

The recipes for pickling and preserving can be used not only as condiments and compliments to their menus, but also to preserve fresh, nutritious vegetables and fruits from the local markets. The staff and chefs all had concerns about the electricity and refrigeration issues in Bamako.

“I believe the pickling and preserving will be used regularly," said Sarah. "I am eager to return to teach more people how to preserve their meats and vegetables through canning, pickling, smoking, and drying.”

Canning Tomatoes

Method: 1. Boil a pot of water; 2. Prep the cold bath; 3. Take off the stems and slice a shallow "X" in the bottom of each; 4; Cook until the skins wrinkles and splits; 5. Lift the tomatoes out of the pot and plunge into the cold water for a few seconds; 6. Transfer the cooled tomatoes to another bowl; 7. Strip the skins from the tomatoes (optional); 8. Chop into small pieces; 9. Using a fork, squeeze the tomatoes to make them smaller and juicier; 10. Bring tomato sauce to simmer over medium heat for about 30 or minutes stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens; 11. Stir in lemon or lime juice and taste to determine sourness; 12. Transfer the sauce into sterilized jars and cover tightly; 13. Place in boiling water for no more than 30 minutes; 14. Allow to cool undisturbed; 15. Results may be stored for up to a year. 


Ingredients: 4 parts water, 3 parts sugar (white or brown), 2 parts vinegar (any flavor), 1 part salt. Any spicing desired (e.g., garlic, pepper, peppercorns, dried chilis, dill, cloves…).

1. Sterilize clean jars and lids by boiling covered with water for at least 15 minutes; 2. Combine pickling mixture and to a full boil; 3. Place vegetables in sterilized jars; 4. Pour boiling mixture over the vegetables leaving some space at the top; 5. Seal the lids, cool, and store.  


Participant Fatoumata Coulibally proudly showing her preserved tomatoes.

Bill Nichols

Name: Bill Nichols

Current title/profession: Principal at Nichols Consulting

Current hometown: Boston, Massachusetts

Areas of expertise: Marketing, strategic planning


Name of project: Farmer-to-Farmer in the Dominican Republic

Location of the project: Dominican Republic

Organization that sent the volunteer: Partners of the Americas


Bill Nichols is a Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) veteran. A graduate of West Point and Harvard Business School, Mr. Nichols has over 30 years of both domestic and international management and marketing experience. He has used his expertise on multiple F2F assignments for Partners of the Americas, most recently in the Dominican Republic (DR) Yaque del Norte working in the watershed with Plan Yaque, a non-profit environmental organization that is dedicated to guaranteeing access to water for all individuals who depend on the watershed.

Partners of the Americas’ F2F program in the DR seeks to increase the resilience of vulnerable populations to the unpredictable impacts of global climate change. The program has a particular emphasis on water management in the Yaque del Norte watershed, which directly and indirectly affects two million people. However, Plan Yaque’s six-person staff was overwhelmed by the number and magnitude of environmental issues that needed to be addressed. In June 2014, F2F Volunteer Bill Nichols traveled to the DR to assist the organization in developing a strategic plan to prioritize the greatest needs for climate change adaptation in communities most affected.

As a result of the assignment, Plan Yaque is focusing activities on three critical issues: water contamination and quality, micro-watershed degradation, and deforestation. Mr. Nichols also worked with Plan Yaque on strategies to increase impact, such as focusing activities primarily on the upper watershed so that a greater number of farmers and inhabitants downstream can benefit. By March 2015, Plan Yaque had a clearer and more focused set of key areas of work. Their new vision prioritizes partnering with the right organizations to strategically address the many environmental issues that impact the Yaque del Norte water resources.

Download this story in PDF format below. This article was originally written by Partners of the Americas.


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Stephen Peterson

Several days after visiting the apiary he had the opportunity to see an ancient Egyptian depiction of beekeeping these bees at the Tomb of Pabasa. “You may have to be a bee-geek to appreciate my feelings upon seeing this classic scene just days after seeing it in action in Fayoum [Egypt]…" - Stephen


Profession: Master Beekeeper

Home State: Alaska, U.S.

Area of Expertise: Beekeeping

Language Spoken: English


Name of project: Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Middle East and North Africa (MENA) 

Program Country: Egypt

Core Implementer: Land O'Lakes International Development

Objective: To increase technical knowledge on low hive productivity and poor honey quality.

Volunteer Assignment and Impact: While in Egypt, Stephen offered guidance to several apiaries on the importance of optimum spacing of bee colonies for improved pollination and increased honey yields. Stephen discovered that one of the apiaries he visited during his assignment works with an indigenous Egyptian bee, Apis mellifera lamarckii. This type of bee is rarely used today and Stephen referred to them as, “a national treasure.” Several days after visiting the apiary, he had the opportunity to see an ancient Egyptian depiction of beekeeping of these rare bees at the Tomb of Pabasa. “You may have to be a bee-geek to appreciate my feelings upon seeing this classic scene just days after seeing it in action in Fayoum…” he said.

Stephen also spoke at the Seventh Annual Arab Beekeepers Union Conference in Egypt. His presentation on good beekeeping practices generated much attention from the conference’s 300 attendees from over 12 countries. Finally, he completed a follow-up assignment where he offered seminars on best practices in bee colony management, nutrition, reproduction and harvesting at apiary schools in Upper Egypt. Stephen is confident that Egyptian beekeepers’ honey quality and yields will improve as the apiaries apply the advice he offered. 

Makeba Clay


Name: Makeba Clay

Current title/profession: Leadership and Organizational Strategist

Current hometown: Washington, DC


Name of project: West Africa Farmer-to-Farmer Program

Location of the project: Ghana

Organization that sent the volunteer: ACDI/VOCA

By Makeba Clay, the ACDI/VOCA-SHRM Foundation International Volunteer Partnership’s first volunteer

It’s so hard to believe that I have only been working with the farmers of the Techiman Maize Traders Association (TEMTA) for almost two weeks now. In such a short time, I have had time to get better acquainted with the farmers, aggregators, and many of those who sell maize in the Techiman market
through informal encounters in the market, focus group sessions, and formal training.

From the beginning, it was clear to me that the farmers were very eager to learn effective methods for strengthening their business operations based on their participation in the focus groups and discussions that I had with them in the market. They were thoroughly engaged throughout the trainings and were also very active in the role playing activities. One of the most notable themes present throughout my discussions with the farmers is the role that culture plays in business. 

As I mentioned in my previous post, Ghanaians are known for their hospitality and also for their deep value of relationships. Based on this, there tends to be a level of informality and a lot of trust that goes into their business practices. These factors, along with a reluctance to disappoint or upset members of the community, has created challenges with adherence to firm contract management practices.

An unexpected aspect of the trainings (and any group meetings with the farmers) has been the importance of integrating faith in everything that they do. For example, all meetings start and end with a prayer. Because approximately half of the TEMTA members are Christian, while the other half are Muslim, they alternate prayers between the two faiths. There is also deep respect and acknowledgement for coordinating meetings around times that do not conflict with Muslim prayer times. Being a part of this type of inclusive interfaith workplace environment has been a really unique and special experience for me.

Additionally, I have been very impressed by the dedication of the training participants. For example, each day that I arrived at the TEMTA Headquarters there were already several farmers there to make sure everything would be set up perfectly for the training session. They also spent their free time reminding other farmers about the training and encouraging participation. As a result of their efforts, nearly 100 participants joined yesterday’s training.

At one training, a number of women in attendance were quite vocal in their desire to become more engaged in leadership roles within the organization and hoped that the training would help build their confidence toward that end. Although there was a moment of dissension among the men regarding some of their statements, due to cultural traditions, there was still respect for the opinions of the women.

As the last week of training approaches, I am looking forward to working with the farmers to implement some of the practical business solutions (ex. record keeping, contract management and negotiation) that we have been discussing. I am also eager to learn about how they plan to support one another during this period of personal development, growth and leadership.

About the ACDI/VOCA-SHRM Foundation International Volunteer Partnership

This partnership was designed to engage high-potential HR professionals and their colleagues in impactful, skills-based international volunteer assignments in the developing world.  The assignments represent unique professional development and corporate social responsibility opportunities and are developed and managed by ACDI/VOCA, a leading Washington, DC-based international development organization.  Volunteers are selected based on their skillsets and assignment needs.  All assignment costs are covered by ACDI/VOCA.  

Makeba Clay volunteered with ACDI/VOCA's West Africa Farmer-to-Farmer program helping farmers build developmental capacity.

Bob Shumaker

Name: Bob Shumaker

Current title/profession: Vegetable and livestock farmer, President of the Alaska Farmers Union

Current hometown: Alaska

Areas of expertise: Farming, business development


Location of the projects: Senegal, Zambia

Organization that sent the volunteer: NCBA CLUSA


Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer Bob Shumaker recently completed his fourth F2F assignment, leading trainings for women farmers in Senegal. Bob, the president of the Alaska Farmers Union, has raised livestock for over 20 years and farmed vegetables for more than 15 years. Bob and his wife, Yasinta, completed separate volunteer assignments with the Groupement de Promotion Féminine (GPF) in the Matam region of Senegal. Yasinta trained women from GPF Soubalo II—a group of 110 women who process local cereals—in business skills to increase their revenues from millet. Training included financial literacy, recordkeeping, business plan development and communication and investment strategies. Bob worked with GPF Gandé II, a group of 44 women who process and sell millet, sorghum, corn, sweet potatoes and beans. The women struggle to earn profits from this endeavor and have cited market access as the main obstacle, so Bob provided training in marketing and techniques to help them increase sales and grow the profile of their businesses. 

Bob’s previous three F2F assignments had all been in Zambia. He first began work there with the Chipata District Farmers Association (CDFA) in 2012, with a training on vegetable production. He returned soon after and helped establish a cooperative based on the seven international co-op principles. He returned once again in October 2015 to share his expertise in soil testing, management and fertilization for peanuts - including blended fertilizer demonstrations for CDFA farmers. He also checked in on the cooperative he helped to form years ago, meeting with cooperative leaders and discussing management issues.

Bob first heard about the Farmer-to-Farmer program through his membership in the National Farmers Union – one of NCBA CLUSA’s member organizations. After his first trip, he was hooked.

“It is the real thing. Hands on, hit the ground running, and finish with a sense of accomplishment! I can tell you I miss them and will be happy to again be working towards a common goal,” said Shumaker. “I go back because we make a difference.” The two- to three-week Farmer-to-Farmer assignments are requested by organizations on the ground and are fully funded through the project; volunteers simply bring their expertise to groups who have a specific need.

“It is an awesome adventure. You learn about people, a different place and life,” Bob said.

This article was edited from two original articles written and published by NCBA CLUSA, which you can find here and here

Eric Bowman

"Eric served as a cooperative development specialist at the Northwest Cooperative Development Center in Olympia, WA for over 10 years. As a cooperative development specialist, Eric provided business development services and technical training in business planning, management and governance, accounting and finance. Bowman also serves as the director and board chair of the Tulip Credit Union."


Profession: Executive Director, Nutritional Therapy Association, Inc.

Home State: Washington, U.S.

Career Summary: Eric served as a cooperative development specialist at the Northwest Cooperative Development Center in Olympia, WA for over 10 years. As a cooperative development specialist, Eric provided business development services and technical training in business planning, management and governance, accounting and finance. Bowman also serves as the director and board chair of the Tulip Credit Union.

Areas of Expertise: Cooperative development, natural resources and marketing for value-added/organic agriculture. Eric has a BA, focused on Economics and Business Administration, from Evergreen State College.

Language Spoken: English


Name of project: Cooperative Governance

Country: El Salvador

SPSP Grantee: National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA)

Objective: To provide El Salvadorian cooperatives, particularly Board Members and management, governance trainings to help strengthen and grow the cooperatives.

Volunteer Assignment and Impact: During his two-week assignment, Eric worked with four cooperatives in El Salvador—El Jabali, APRAINORES, the Cooperative Association of Organic Producers (ACOPO), and the Cooperative Association of Acocaluco (ACOCALUCO). He provided trainings to the cooperative’s board members and management on governance issues affecting cooperatives, including how to conduct board meetings, the role of the board of directors, conflict resolution, and cooperative principles and values. Eric also worked with these cooperatives on business and financial planning.
While working with the four cooperatives, Eric quickly discovered the members’ understanding of governance and business management was also very limited. In response, he worked with the members  to help them understand key governance functions and concepts, as well as helping them develop action plans to put the ideas they discussed into practice. In addition, within all of his trainings with the board of directors, management, and members, Eric focused on participatory and group activities to encourage team-building and emphasize the community aspect of cooperative business. Overall, Eric’s effort to assess each cooperative’s strengths and weaknesses enabled him to tailor the trainings for maximum impact. For example, board members demonstrated an increase in knowledge of governance functions and were excited to implement their action plans.

Charlene Nash: VEGA Volunteer of the Year for Farmer-to-Farmer SPSP 2016

Name: Charlene Nash

Current title/profession: Senior Horticulturalist at the Tennessee Aquarium

Current hometown: Chattanooga, TN

Areas of expertise: Horticulture


Name of project: Zambia Farmer-to-Farmer SPSP, Senegal Farmer-to-Farmer Project

Volunteer Scope of Work: Improving peanut seed production (Zambia), composing and conservation agriculture (Senegal), soil fertility improvement (Senegal)

Location of the project: Zambia (1), Senegal (2)

Duration of assignment(s): 48 days

Organization that sent the volunteer: NCBA CLUSA

Charlene Nash has volunteered three times with National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) F2F projects this year for a total of 48 days, once in Zambia under the VEGA SPSP, and twice in Senegal. In Zambia, Charlene supported the Chipata District Farmers Association and Community Oriented Development Program members in improving peanut seed production. During the improved soil fertility portion of the training, Charlene introduced compost tea and demonstrated how a solar air and water pump can be used to brew the tea, which is poured over the soil and the compost. Charlene left the device with the farmers and gave instructions so they could each brew tea for their field and then pass it along to other farmers.

Charlene also worked with a group of farmers on marketing strategies for selling their peanut seeds to other local farmers and buyers. She helped them design a logo for their seeds and donated money to the program to get the first 1,000 labels printed. As of September 2016 these farmers are now selling their peanut seed to local buyers in the newly labeled packaging.

Charlene’s dedication to the F2F Program goes far beyond her volunteer work on the ground in Africa. In 2012, Charlene started a nonprofit called Soil Resources Initiative to raise funds to purchase inputs and training supplies for her F2F assignments. Over the past four years she has raised approximately $15,000! Charlene’s goal is to expand Soil Resources Initiative’s fundraising efforts after she retires and can dedicate more time to the nonprofit.

Charlene Nash’s impact is not only in the number of assignments she’s completed, but also in her tireless efforts in the U.S. to educate her community about the important work the U.S. government is doing to promote sustainable international development through the F2F Program.

Charlene, originally from Columbia, South Carolina,  is the Senior Horticulturalist at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she has worked since 1992.

Cliff Wener

Name: Cliff Wener

Current hometown: Winnetka, Illinois

Areas of expertise: Food service, food processing, hospitality 


Name of project: Farmer-to-Farmer in Bangladesh

Location of the project: Bangladesh

Organization that sent the volunteer: Winrock International


Cliff Wener is a food service, food processing and hospitality expert from Winnetka, Illinois. Over the last 12 years, he has lent his time and expertise to Winrock International and other organizations on more than 20 different volunteer assignments around the world. Most recently, Cliff volunteered with Winrock’s Farmer-to-Farmer program in Bangladesh, where he worked with a local food processor to improve food handling and safety practices, introduce new products and recipes, and increase overall productivity and profit. By strengthening food processors, volunteers help create better markets and income for farmers and new jobs for the unemployed. Winrock staff recently talked with Cliff about his past experiences and passion for volunteering. Some of his thoughts are included in the following interview.

What keeps you going back to volunteer?

It’s an opportunity to make a difference on a very personal level. Despite what you read in the newspapers about hostilities between one country and another, the everyday person just needs to get up and go about daily living of providing for family and raising children – just like me in the U.S. It’s really a good opportunity for people to show one-on-one that whatever you read in media, Americans are good people. And for me, I can come back and say, “Okay, the average people from [X country] are good people trying to get through life and make things happen.” People-to-people is what it is all about. My [volunteer] experiences are so rich for me personally, and being able to share the experience with family and colleagues is wonderful thing.

How have your assignments made a difference in your own life?

From a personal point of view, it is an unbelievable opportunity to see what the world is all about. There are approximately 160 million people living in Bangladesh, and up until a couple of months ago, I had no clue. The world is a big place. But now I see things related to countries I’ve been to, and it makes me a better citizen and helps me understand the world and U.S. politics better.

Do you keep in touch with your host organizations? [Host organizations are the organizations that receive volunteer support]

Sometimes I keep in touch with my hosts, and that is a great part of this. It is great if you can see where the host is going, what they tried, what they didn’t try, what has been successful, what hasn’t been successful. Once in a while I’ve gone back to the same country and worked with or visited the same host, and it’s great to see how they are doing. Even if they took one out of your 100 ideas and are running with it, it’s good to know.

Have any of the assignments caused you to do anything differently once you returned?

Never assume. This sticks out [to me]. Everyone comes to the party with different experiences and assumptions. I do a lot of food safety training. Everyone in the U.S. is concerned about keeping clean, and everyone has hand sanitizer, and the grocery store has wipes. And then I come to another country, and I’ve been on assignments where I haven’t had hot water. Coming from the U.S., we have a whole set of assumptions. In my life, when I approach trainings, I talk about what happens in other countries, and I think that presents a more sensitive case on problems and different solutions to the same type of problem.

What advice would you give someone considering volunteering?

Number one, you have to be flexible. A lot of times, the hosts don’t know what their own problems are, or what they say is the problem is not really the root problem. You need to take a 360-degree viewpoint when you come. Recognize that it isn’t necessarily going to be exactly what you thought was going to happen or what you prepared to do.

Why should people consider volunteering?

I think it’s an opportunity, one on one, to make a difference. People really appreciate it. From a personal point of view, it’s a rich and rewarding experience, and if you like to travel, it’s a great way to do so. The saying “teach a man to fish” is trite but still meaningful.

This article was originally written by Winrock International. 

Michael Morrow

"Apart from being a project indicator, promoting a local food system is key to rural economic development. And the establishment of an aggregation center and an IT platform through which producers can sell directly to consumers (a Consumer-Supported Agricultural system) is key to a local foods approach."


Profession: Market Manager, Hoosier Harvest Market

Home State: Indiana, U.S.

Career Summary: After military service in various countries, Michael worked as a financial consultant for several agencies and businesses, conducting profit and risk analysis. For the past two years, he has served as Market Manager for the Hoosier Harvest Market, an Indiana CSA.

Areas of Expertise: Business analysis, planning, project management, agricultural production and processing (as a small farmer and CSA market manager); leadership. Michael has a BS, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business Purdue University College of Agriculture

Languages Spoken: English, Spanish


Name of project: Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) in Colombia’s Orinoquia Region

Country: Colombia

SPSP Gratnee: Purdue University

Duration of Assignment: 8 days

Volunteer Assignment and Impact: In Colombia, the market conditions for the majority of food produced by small and medium farmers are poorly developed, negatively affecting prices, quality and energy costs. Political and marketing models favor the large-scale producers and generate food market monopolies. In general, there is no contact between producers and consumers, and the market is very variable and inconstant for prices, supplies and deliveries that normally affect small farmers’ stability and profitability. Access to markets is the main problem for small producers, and there are no regional and local markets for direct to consumer sales. Moreover, there is a lack of information about market contacts and potential market opportunities. ICT tools can help resolve many market issues, providing access to information and contacts, as well as opening opportunities to sell and deliver food products directly to consumers. ITC provides also an opportunity to interest young people in agricultural production and markets. Michael led the promotion of a local food system, investigation of feasibility, and recommendations on steps for establishing a direct to consumer local market system for small farmers and processors. Specifically, Michael recommended the following steps:

  1. Identify 5 - 10 farmers in the Meta region that want to be responsible for the administrative management of the food hub (This will be your first Board of Directors);
  2. Identify a centralized aggregation location;
  3. Develop sub-aggregation points to create communication and trust among food hub membership;
  4. Find local businesses to partner with for order distribution to retail customers, or wholesale marketplaces that will help develop farmer coordination to fill wholesale orders;
  5. Determine if Local Food Marketplace will be able to fulfill technical needs; and
  6. Start your online marketplace!

However, while initially Michael was seeking to link Unillanos and the Meta government with the application developers that Hoosier Harvest Market has used Local Food Marketplace, he found a much more appropriate source in Alex Cordona, Colombian-American founder of The Supply Chain Knowledge Company and his new platform called 47FARMS.