Over two decades, farm owner David Pearce has completed 45 volunteer assignments in 15 countries for Winrock International, most often with the USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program. A recipient of the Presidential Lifetime Volunteer Service Award and the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance “Volunteer of the Decade” award (honorable mention), Pearce is a dedicated and dynamic volunteer who has made countless, lasting connections with beneficiaries and staff around the world. Recently, after a three year hiatus from volunteering, Pearce added a new country, Nigeria, and two assignments to his already countless number of volunteer assignments.
“My first assignment took me to a moderate city (750,000) Saki, Oyo State Nigeria. That’s as many folks in one city as in the State of North Dakota- where I call home. The mission was to teach about cooperative formation and leadership, keeping records and creating the Chart of Accounts and a Journal Ledger, then to write a manual that might be used to train in future cooperative members and other entrepreneurs.
In total, about 90 participants attended the four days of workshops, with vast difference in background of education & training. To keep them engaged and involved was a challenge. Three take-a-ways:
1) At the start of the training we purchased a small MTN 4GLTE Internet HotSpot ($20)– it worked like a gem allowing me real time access to YouTube video (actually finding one of Nigerian Shea Orign, LTD). Video ascends the lecture mode and involves nearly 100% of the audience. I was able to search and find several resources, often in a language, my audience could understand- and then because of another’s insight and foresight to video and YouTube present them via battery powered laptop- how powerful to share and demo the possibilities.
2) Because of cameras, laptops, and telephones, we were able to display much of the group work done within small group interaction. Power was sometimes sporadic- but we capitalized on the opportunities.
3) As a means of review- the final day of the training- we had “TRAINERS” within the group, volunteer and select chapters of the manual – the manual I was to prepare as a part of the overall workshop. The trainers then used the manual as an outline and review present the key areas we’d covered all week. It provided both a great review of the material presented, demonstrated alternative presentation techniques, incorporated cultural chants- but most importantly- a translation and interpretation into what had been shared and learned during our week together. It was most affirming! We ended the workshop with the presentation of certificates and a lunch!
In my second assignment, I worked with the Network for Agricultural and Technical Education in Nigeria (NATEN), a recently formed Board and at the recommendation of two prior F2F volunteers (Ms. Leslie Cosgrove and Prof. Chris Igodan), were an Organization and Group Dynamics Workshop was held at one of the member institutions. I had the opportunity to shape and deliver a three-day interactive meeting with 5 of the 7 board members and 6 additional faculty and administrative staff. I had four expected deliverables: 1) Provide an opportunity for the members to get to know themselves better- thus enabling higher levels of TRUST and team spirit, 2) provide an introduction to the network, its vision, mission, goals, and programs, and to enable every member to function within the same framework and with the same understanding and commitment. 3) Conduct training on procedures of meetings, documentation, and record keeping. 4) Design a training manual for the board to use to train future members of the network. In the course of the three days- we did that. After the training, I received a “heartwarming” letter from one of the participants within 24 hours of the training.”