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Peace Corps Volunteer Helps Ukrainians Tap Solar Power
February 3, 2012

A group of young people
Peace Corps volunteer Jessica Jackman joins Ukrainian students for a picnic to celebrate the end of the school year.

A U.S. Peace Corps volunteer is helping her Ukrainian community take advantage of the sun’s power by working with them to build two greenhouses equipped with solar-powered heating and irrigation systems.

“This project is a noble endeavor that highlights the ingenuity and motivation that my community has to solve its own problems in a sustainable manner,” said Jessica Jackman, who has been working as a Peace Corps youth development volunteer in Ukraine since March 2010.

“This project is important not only because it offers a tangible solution to a mounting problem, but it gives hope and a sense of achievement to a community that is often overlooked because of its rural location and size,” Jackman said in a January 31 Peace Corps press release.

The solar-powered system will pump water to the plants in the greenhouses and provide heat and electricity for the structures during the winter. The fruits and vegetables grown in the greenhouses will be sold to community members at a below-market price, and will be used for lunches in the local school.

Jackman, a University of Utah graduate from Salt Lake City, has also helped her community residents apply for and administer grants to modernize their water system and provide potable water to the community.

“This is a huge endeavor in a country that struggles with innovation and providing for their citizens,” Jackman said. “To be in a community that is so forward-thinking and proactive is an amazing thing to be involved in.”

A portion of the funds for the solar-energy systems is being raised through the Peace Corps Partnership Program, which helps fund Peace Corps volunteer community projects worldwide. To receive such funding, a community must contribute 25 percent of the total project cost and establish measures of success. This helps ensure community ownership and a greater chance of long-term sustainability. Funds for the program come from tax-deductible contributions.

The Peace Corps, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011, has some 536 volunteers in Ukraine, working in education, economic development and youth development. Volunteers are trained and work in Russian and Ukrainian. More than 2,505 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Ukraine since the program was established in 1992.