Weekly Program Summary:
Week One - Orientation and Pond System Observations:
• The trainees and staff get acquainted and trainees become familiar with the local area, living quarters and basic logistics of training. Information is provided on the training program, logistics, rules and Peace Corps policies. Administrative forms are completed. Trainees' expectations of training are discussed. The training program objectives, design and methodology are related to volunteer effectiveness;
• Short interviews take place to allow staff to meet each trainee on an individual basis and to give trainees opportunities to express concerns, hopes or interests, and ask specific questions;
• Trainees sharpen their observation skills, become familiar with the training site, and begin to adjust to an individual style of learning through a detailed and thorough study of the pond system and surrounding area. They begin to learn and develop specific questions about aquaculture based on their observations;
• Each trainee is assigned a pond to manage throughout the training period. They define their goals for their pond work and begin writing work plans and preparing their ponds. In order to obtain equipment, trainees are required to follow a requisition system that is explained to them by a staff member;
• A special meeting is held to help trainees process what they experienced during the first week, and to help them see training more clearly in the context of their role as Peace Corps Volunteers. They are encouraged to think about their training from the perspective of Peace Corps and the host country, and to consider the needs they will be expected to meet as volunteers. The trainees are encouraged to define their goals for the ten-week program. They are informed of the staffs expectations of them during the program as well.
Week Two - Introduction to Pond Management:
• Trainees spend the week writing work plans and working in their ponds. Through the development of detailed, comprehensive Management Plans, basic technical and biological concepts of pond culture are explored, and trainees are encouraged to formulate additional questions related to their work. They begin to think of themselves as fish farmers, to view aquaculture as a form of agriculture and to recognize the importance of economics and profitability. Brainstorming and goal setting are introduced as problem solving techniques;
• Through pond preparation and stocking, trainees begin doing the physical tasks involved in aquaculture, working with various tools and equipment, using the pumps and associated plumbing, and handling fish. A meeting is held in which they can share their experiences and develop some guidelines regarding the proper handling of fish;
• At the end of the week, trainees are asked to evaluate the training program to date by means of a prepared form.
Week Three - Advanced Pond Management:
• The emphasis during this week is on pond management. At this point, trainees have developed the main sections of their management plans sufficiently that they are carrying out a variety of daily activities at their ponds, learning about fish and fish culture through experience. This will continue throughout the program as they continue to manage their ponds;
• Trainees have developed enough specific, clear questions about fish and aquaculture to take advantage of opportunities presented by access to resource people and visits to other facilities. Field trips are scheduled and trainees get hands-on experience working with fish culturists at nearby facilities. Trainees are expected to apply the information they gain to their own ponds;
• Trainees are made aware of the requirements for weekly technical pond reports in which they are to document all activities that occur with their individual ponds, report data they collect, their interpretation of that data, and plans for the following week. Professional record keeping and report writing becomes an increasingly important theme as training progresses;
• Responsibility for the maintenance of tools and feed sheds are turned over to the training group;
• Information gathering, professionalism and social awareness are stressed in their interactions with resource people and the community as a whole;
• Personal interviews are conducted with each trainee. In preparation for these interviews, trainees are asked to fill out a self-evaluation form. During the interview, the staff and the trainee compare notes on how each thinks the trainee is progressing in various aspects of training. If the staff or trainee feels it is appropriate, ideas are exchanged and suggestions are made on how improvements can be brought about in certain areas.
Week Four - Surveying and Masonry:
• Trainees are instructed in the use and care of surveying equipment. They are required to complete a series of exercises which reinforce the techniques and introduce the basics of pond design. One of the surveying projects is conducted in small groups, then presented to the large group in a formal setting. In addition to obtaining specific new technical skills and applying them in a variety of ways, the exercises permit trainees to sharpen their leadership skills and to practice working effectively in groups. The presentations give them an opportunity to develop their public speaking styles, share and reinforce the technical material they have learned, and serve as an introduction to extension techniques. Critiques following each presentation provide opportunities for giving and receiving feedback, while becoming familiar with the rules and guidelines for proper feedback;
• Trainees design a holding tank, monk or other concrete structure. Under the direction of group leaders, they build the form, set up the reinforcement and mix and pour the concrete;
• Trainees complete another evaluation of the training program;
• If possible, participation in a local festival or social event is scheduled.
Week Five - Advanced Site Selection and Pond Design:
• Trainees spend a day with an expert in site selection, pond design and pond construction from the Soil Conservation Service. They receive both classroom and field instruction, then participate in several exercises. For the rest of the week they work in small groups on a site development exercise, laying out a viable pond and presenting it to the group. Extension techniques are emphasized as a part of these presentations;
• Trainees are informed of their responsibilities for seminar presentations. For these presentations, the various aspects of fish culture and extension are organized into a series of seminar topics. Each trainee is assigned a topic to research and present to the group. If Marketing and Economics is not to be included among the seminar topics (this may depend on the size of the group, backgrounds of the trainees or available resources for researching the topic), a visitor may be scheduled to present a session on this subject;
• As part of the seminar that includes fish processing and preparation, the trainees who have been assigned that topic lead the group in hosting a fish fry. Here the trainees get their first opportunity to clean and prepare fish in a variety of ways.
• Personal interviews are conducted with each trainee to discuss continuing progress in the program.
Week Six - Seminar Preparation:
• Trainees spend the majority of their time researching their seminar topics. They are given access to a variety of experts through personal or telephone interviews and, for the first time, to written resource materials. Individuals or pairs of trainees meet often with staff members to discuss their progress, and a practice run of each seminar is held with staff prior to the actual presentation;
• On Friday and Saturday, the first two seminar presentations take place. The first presentation is on extension and administration. This presentation should include demonstrations of several extension techniques and should serve as a model for the remaining seminars. The Site Selection/Pond Construction Seminar is scheduled this early so that any spare during the following week can be used to begin work on the pond construction project that will be coordinated by the trainees who present this topic;
• Trainees complete their third evaluation of the program.
Week Seven - Seminar Presentations:
• The week is devoted to presentations of the seminars. Trainees receive technical information, experience in public speaking, and exposure to a variety of extension techniques. Short critiques are facilitated by the trainees at the completion of each presentation which help trainees evaluate and improve their communication skills.
Week Eight - Field Trip:
• Trainees visit farmers, extensionists and researchers in the field of aquaculture. They see practical applications of the extension and technical issues they discussed in seminars and are exposed to various facets of the U.S. aquaculture industry. This overview gives the trainees a sense of the potential of aquaculture and provides them with a valuable perspective for their roles as volunteers working in the very early stages of development of this industry in their respective countries. Since the trip provides a break in the routine and tensions of training as well as a change of scenery, it gives the trainees a chance to get rejuvenated. The trainees' technical discussions with industry leaders serve as a tremendous confidence boost. They usually return from this trip with renewed energy and heightened motivation that help them during the last two weeks of the program.
Week Nine - Country Specifics, Construction and Advanced Pond Design:
• Trainers, visiting field staff, and RPCV's provide country specific information through question/answer sessions, slide shows and discussions. These sessions include technical information, programming issues, and other material regarding life as a Peace Corps volunteer;
• Trainees continue the construction of a fish pond under the direction of their group leaders. This is an extremely important project. Trainees are responsible for every phase, from surveying, design and staking through construction. In addition to reinforcing and putting together the many technical skills involved, this gives trainees an appreciation for the labor required to build a pond. Most importantly, building the pond tremendously increases the trainees' confidence in one of the most intimidating aspects of the job of a fisheries volunteer;
• A final site selection/pond design exercise is done to reinforce the techniques learned on the field trip and in seminars. In this exercise as much emphasis is placed on extension methodology as on the technical aspects;
• As final harvests begin, trainees market some of their fish in the local] community and prepare some of their fish for another fish fry;
• Trainee-facilitated meetings take place at the end of the week in which some of the most important technical concepts covered throughout training are tied together. Staff members meet frequently with the trainee facilitators to provide guidance and feedback as they prepare their sessions.
Week Ten - Harvests, Final Reports and Closure:
• Trainees harvest their ponds. They write a final report in which they process and evaluate their individual pond management practices and experiences. Discussion of the final report is included as part of the final interview;
• A meeting is held in which the trainees are encouraged to give thought to the range of emotions they may experience upon arrival in their countries of assignment, and to the possible effects of, and strategies for coping with, culture shock;
• A final dinner is held to formally conclude training. Trainees receive certificates to document their successful completion of the program.
Weekly Schedule of Events: (see following pages)
WEEKLY SCHEDULE FOR TEN-WEEK PROGRAM
Full week is spent visiting various facilities representing an overview of the aquaculture industry in the southeastern United States. Facilities may include federal and state hatcheries and research stations, university research and extension stations, large and small commercial fish farms,, fish processing plants, feed mills, extension service offices, fish restaurants and markets, lending institutions and net-making factories.