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Winrock International

Volunteer Post

Give of Yourself a Spirit of Service – Highlighting Winrock International Recruiters Darla Embry and Dr. Olivia Caillouet

Darla Embry & Dr. Olivia Caillouet

As a proud implementer of volunteer programs around the world, Winrock International is always happy to participate in celebrating and recognizing service. Each year at this time, we join many other organizations nationwide to reflect on volunteerism–particularly around these three questions: “What’s your story?”, “What does service mean to you?” and “Why do you volunteer?” We asked our recruiters to reflect on what motivates people to volunteer and what motivated them to join Winrock International to recruit our volunteers. 

Darla Embry 

I am a mother of two grown children and four grandsons and will celebrate 43 years of marriage to my best friend, Jeff. We live on the family farm and are engaged in hay and agriculture farming. It has been a continuous family farm since 1947. In 2001 I began working for Winrock International in Finance. After completing my degree in Sociology, I went to work as a Recruiter for the Farmer-to-Farmer program and have been there ever since. I have seen many changes, but one thing that never changes is the inspiration I get daily from the people I work with and the job we do as a team. I had this discussion with many volunteers over the past 20 years and received a wide variety of responses. Some feel it’s a responsibility we give back to others, and some feel it’s a moral obligation to help the poor and disadvantaged.

For some, it can be the curiosity of learning about other cultures and being inspired by them. These volunteer experiences provide fulfillment in learning, helping, and giving to others. When it’s over, you realize you receive more from this volunteer experience than you ever imagined. It truly is life-changing for our host and our volunteers. Winrock has both national and international programs that work with individuals and communities to enable them to improve their lives and livelihoods. “When you give a person a fish, they eat for a day. When you teach a person to fish, they eat for a lifetime.” I had just started working for Winrock, and my husband, Jeff, went on a volunteer assignment to Turkmenistan. It changed our worldviews 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. 

Dr. Olivia Caillouet 

I have worked as a graduate assistant at the University of Arkansas’ College of Agricultural and Life Sciences International Programs Office, helping match students with study abroad opportunities. I have also worked on farms in Puerto Rico, Mozambique, Timor-Leste, and Panama, which fueled my passion for international agricultural development. I received my Bachelor’s in Horticulture from the University of Arkansas, a Master’s in Agricultural and Extension Education from the University of Arkansas, and a Doctoral Degree in Agricultural Education and Communication with an emphasis in Extension from the University of Florida. I enjoy rock climbing, sailing, and visiting botanical gardens during my downtime. I am committed to promoting resilient agricultural systems, improving people’s lives, and sustaining natural resources. 

While completing my master’s thesis, I had the chance to research what motivates individuals to engage in international experiences. As a recruiter for Winrock’s F2F program, I have observed that “a sprit of service” is the driving force that motivates individuals to volunteer. Our most successful volunteers are often intrinsically motivated to share their skills with our host organizations abroad. Our intrinsically motivated volunteers are driven by an internal sense of responsibility to give back to others, have a growth mindset, and find emotional connection through international relationship building. Most volunteers understand the deep inequities around the world, and where an individual is born can be a strong determinant for their overall quality of life.

Also, our volunteers are driven by a deep sense of purpose related to disseminating agricultural best practices, improved rural livelihood, gender equality, and economic development. Winrock’s F2F volunteers understand their skills and want to be of service to build international collaboration and work toward global food security, resource conservation, and accessible education. Our volunteers are often motivated through mutual learning and cherish the opportunity to learn from another culture. My passion for joining Winrock as a recruiter aligns with many factors motivating our volunteers. My background in horticulture and agricultural extension made my transition to Winrock seamless. Every day I get the opportunity to connect technical experts with demand-driven needs from our colleagues abroad while simultaneously strengthening agricultural networks, promoting climate-smart agriculture, and empowering communities to build local capacity, which strengthens economies. I am honored to work for Winrock’s F2F program and am continually motivated by the growth of our host organizations, volunteers, and continued learning focused on agriculture, natural resources, and improved lives for people around the world.