Thursday, January 12, 2017

Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer Experience in the DR

Williams Hernandez (Plan Yaque) and Ms. Surface 
discuss El Arca Jarabacoa’s wetland sewage treatment system
By F2F Volunteer Jan Marie Surface

November 13-27, 2016 I had the opportunity to complete my first Farmer-to-Farmer assignment in the Dominican Republic. On my first day, I was introduced to the Farmer-to-Farmer staff: Dr. Rafael Ledesma Schoowe, Country Coordinator; Rafael Marte Aracena, my assigned Field Officer, José Almodóvar, Field Officer; and Ana Gonzalez, Administrative Assistant. Dr. Ledesma and I discussed the assignment and he provided an overview of the F2F program in the Dominican Republic (DR).

My host organization, The Plan for the Sustainable Development of the Yaque del Norte River Basin Inc. (Plan Yaque), requested assistance with the development of a proposal to fund rainfall, temperature, and humidity weather stations in 52 micro-watersheds in the Yaque del Norte river basin. The goals of the project, if funded, are to promote the education, environmental awareness, and training of school children within each of the 52 micro-watersheds and to provide Plan Yaque with climate data to compliment the water quality data for each micro-watershed so that conservation projects can be designed using more accurate localized data. A data collection sheet and a list of potential sources of funding were also developed.
Ms. Surface presenting on “watershed management”

During my assignment, I had the opportunity to see other projects that Plan Yaque, in collaboration with the Charles River Watershed Association in Boston, Massachusetts, has developed a water quality monitoring program. Emmanuel Vargas (Plan Yaque Assistant Program Coordinator of Water and Sanitation and Coordinator of Volunteer Program), gave me an excellent overview of the program and showed me all of the water quality monitoring equipment.

We also made field visits to 2 wetland treatment systems. The first system treats the sewage from 75 homes. The second system treats the sewage from a Catholic residence for homeless children with approximately 80 residents. I was very impressed by the constructed wetland for sewage treatment systems that Plan Yaque has installed. These are a very appropriate treatment option in rural areas where land is available for the systems.

Students from National School of 
Environment and Natural Resources
As part of community outreach, I made a presentation to 51 students (36 male, and 15 female) at the National School of Environment and Natural Resources on watershed management. The students were very attentive and asked a number of questions after the presentation.

During the rest of my assignment, I met with Fundacion REDDOM, worked on the proposal, and made visits to various areas within the watershed to develop an understanding of the watershed hydrology and local agriculture.

On my final day, I presented the final grant proposal to Plan Yaque staff and representatives from the Ministry of the Environment.

I really appreciate the opportunity to volunteer with Farmer-to-Farmer in the Dominican Republic. My assigned F2F Field Officer, Rafael Marte Aracena, was incredibly knowledgeable and helpful throughout my stay. Rafael coordinated and facilitated everything I needed to accomplish the assignment and I can’t thank him enough for his support and kindness throughout my stay. I look forward to working on future F2F assignments.

Mr. Luis Tolentino (Fundacion REDDOM) and Ms. Surface 
discussing REDDOM’s network of weather stations.

Ms. Surface (F2F volunteer) at Plan Yaque project sign
Ms. Surface presents the final grant proposal titled 
“Monitoring climate in 52 micro-watershed in Yaque del Norte: 
Engaging students in Plan Yaque’s environmental monitoring network”

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