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Winrock International

Volunteer Post

Celebrating Darla Embry, Volunteer Recruiter

One of Winrock’s volunteer recruiters will retire after 23 years with our organization. Darla spent 21 of those years as a volunteer recruiter (and much more!) with our Volunteer Technical Assistance team.

Darla Embry, a mother of two and grandmother of four, lives on a family farm with her best friend and husband, Jeff. Darla credits learning about Winrock to a serendipitous moment when she and Jeff were invited to the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute which sits atop beautiful Petit Jean Mountain in Morrilton, Arkansas. At the time, Darla was looking for a career in something that would give her meaning and purpose. After the visit to the Rockefeller Institute, Darla was hired as a Payroll Clerk, kickstarting her career at Winrock International.

Darla began working at Winrock in 2001, and after completing a degree in Sociology, came to work as a recruiter for the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer program and has been with the project ever since. During her tenure as a volunteer recruiter, Darla has experienced all that volunteerism had to offer, experiencing changes in both the world and the program, but one thing that never changes is her unwavering commitment to the value of volunteer work, to compassion and empathy. As Darla once said, “[volunteerism] changed my worldview of other cultures and the inspiration they provide. Altruism is the selfless concern for the well-being of others. To give of yourself and not receive anything in return. Volunteering is selfless, but in return, you will experience a life-changing worldview of cultures that aren’t much different from your own.”

Darla Embry at the beginning of her Winrock career

Darla has traveled to countries in Central Asia and West Africa where, over the years, Winrock has placed F2F volunteers in countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Senegal. Darla’s trips abroad to visit with the Country Directors, host organizations, and volunteers gave her a deeper understanding of her work as a volunteer recruiter which further fueled her passion for volunteering. Darla shared that one of the amazing aspects of the volunteer program is the “person to person connection.”

During her tenure, she recruited 800 volunteer assignments that dedicated 6,400 days. These volunteer assignments resulted in nearly 17,000+ people trained!

Below, she reflects on life as a recruiter and the immeasurable connections she has made with so many volunteers over the years.

“Thank you for all the decades of friendship, fellowship, and dedication to the mission of Winrock International. I am proud that I was able to help in any way to make the world a better place. Not many jobs can say that, but Winrock can. When I look at those smiling faces of children that can now go to school, eat better, and enjoy life because a volunteer went to West Africa or Central Asia to help their family. Thank you to the field staff, US staff, and most of all the volunteers who make this all possible. To quote Lou Gehrig: ‘Today, I consider myself to be the luckiest person on the face of the earth.’”

We honor Darla and her dedication to supporting communities around the world, and we will miss her.