Mary Elmer served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Comarca Ngäbe-Bugle, Panama from 2013 to 2015. She worked as a Sustainable Agricultural Systems Extension Agent. Mary lived in an indigenous community mostly comprised of subsistence farmers where the native language is Ngäbe; however, almost everyone under the age of 40 also fluently speaks Spanish. Within this region of Panama, the main agricultural problems are with soil fertility, insect infestations, and fungal viruses. Mary worked to help improve productivity of traditional crops, such as, corn, beans, rice, and cassava through best management practices and integrated pest management techniques. As well, Mary worked with a local cooperative and community members to improve their basic business management skills. As a Peace Corps Master’s International* student at NCSU she conducted her research for her Master’s Thesis in Natural Resources, Economics and Management Technical Option, over her two years of service within her community with a specific focus on impact evaluation. Mary hopes to graduate in December 2016.
*NC State was a Peace Corps Master’s International partner until the Peace Corps retired the program in 2016.