Name: Melanie Forstrom
Current title/profession: 4-H Youth Development Issue Leader
Current hometown: New York
Areas of expertise: Youth Education, Experiential Learning
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
Being the first volunteer of a cycle gave me the exciting opportunity to contribute to and shape the youth involvement strategy for the following 5 years in the Dominican Republic.
I was mainly stationed in Santo Domingo but had the opportunity to travel to Jarabacoa and Mao. There I saw and experienced organic strawberry and banana production, talked to young producers, and had rich conversations about protecting the basins of the Rio Yaque del Norte.
"The main outcome of my assignment was creating a draft youth development strategy."
This was accomplished through research, surveys and meetings with host organizations and young producers. I produced a SWOT Analysis of each of the 3 organization partnering to incentivize youth agriculture in the Dominican Republic, as well as of the youth sector overall.
My assessment that a smaller scale mentoring program with each producer teaching 1-2 youth is the most viable path for the next five years, until there are additional incentives for producers to educate younger youth. If there is then enough interest to sustain a 4-H club model, this could happen further down the road.