ESF Alumna Brings Lessons from the Peace Corps Home
Posted June 2020
Chloe Blaisdell was approaching her one-year anniversary with the Peace Corps in Zambia when the global coronavirus pandemic forced the program's closure worldwide. Now she's using what she learned in Zambia as the farm assistant at Matthew 25, a non-profit farm serving those in need in Central New York.
"I joined the Peace Corps because I wanted to teach and I wanted to learn. I learned so much in Zambia. I learned a language, a new culture, a new perspective, and new agricultural practices. I got to teach what I was passionate about to people who were eager to learn. I made friends for a lifetime and a family on another continent," said Blaisdell, who graduated in 2018 with a B.S. in conservation biology.
One of the Peace Corps goals is to bring what is learned abroad back to the United States. "I'm already doing some of those things here at this farm," she said.
The farm works with multicultural farmers which aligns with Blaisdell's work in Zambia. "We have a few refugee farmers that cultivate plots of land at our farm," she said. "I was thrilled to be able to return to the U.S. and continue work similar to that I was doing in the Peace Corps. It made the transition much easier for me."
The food produced at Matthew 25 goes to area food pantries and people in need. "We don't sell any of it," she said. The farm operates on a pick-one, keep-one rule. People can pick the food they need but are asked to pick an equal quantity to be sent to food pantries.
Blaisdell is happy to be working at Matthew 25, but being part of the Peace Corps was always a life goal.
"What I liked about the Peace Corps is the emphasis of cultural integration and long-term commitment by the Peace Corps allows for a more successful service as you approach projects from the community perspective and not just a foreign perspective," she said. "The Peace Corps tries to get you into your community as a member of that community instead of the outsider."
Blaisdell credits her time at ESF for preparing her for the Peace Corps. She drew on what she learned in courses including the Diversity of Life as well as environmental communication classes while working as an agroforestry volunteer.
Blaisdell's program ranged from nutrition to agroforestry to conservation farming with many other topics in between.
She conducted tree nursery demonstrations, taught people how to self-harvest seeds, and create tree nurseries. She also taught about climate change and the importance trees play in the region which is experiencing rapid rates of deforestation.
"I worked with community members, government officials, and my village's headman to create a community forest in our village that is strictly off-limits to harvesting trees or plants, in an attempt to restore lost forest cover," she said.
There were also secondary projects focused on health and gender equality. Blaisdell did HIV and malaria education and organized a GLOW camp - Girls Leading Our World - which helped empower girls and taught them how to be leaders in their community.
Blaisdell credits her time at ESF for helping her expand her horizons through internships, research projects and support. "My hometown was pretty small," said the Lafayette, New York native, "and I do credit my time at ESF for helping me grow, find my passion and giving me opportunities to explore through different avenues. I think that kind of environment at ESF is what allows students to build a resume that will get them where they want to go."
ESF Alumni Have an Impact
- Alumna named Young Forester Leader
- ESF Alumna Brings Lessons from the Peace Corps Home
- ESF Professorís Poetry Book Addresses #MeToo TopicsJanine DeBaiseís book Body Language tackles taboo topics
- Researchers Discover Process for Slow Removal of Old Carbon from OceansDr. David Kieber part of team whose findings were published in Science Advance
- Catholic Charities of Onondaga County: Staff Spotlight: Shewa Shwani and Food Connections
- 2019 Commencement: 'You Are My Family,' Student Speaker SaysESF celebrates 118th class of spring graduates
- ESF Alumna Leads Cannabis Team for Law FirmSara Payne answers call for cannabis-focused counsel
- Alumni Association Recognizes Outstanding Alumni2017 Graduates of Distinction Award Recipients
- Mortarboards Fly and Students Become AlumniClass of 2018 celebrates achievements
- Syracuse.com: Paul Tremont on leadership: Know your strengths and weaknesses to build a stronger team
- ESF Alumna Named Schwarzman ScholarElizabeth Maio to study in Beijing in one-year masterís program
- ESF Celebrates December CommencementJournalist Frank Sesno, three alumni to be honored during ceremony
- Class of '17 Joins ESF Alumni RanksDegrees and ESF flags in hand, graduates celebrate accomplishments
- Renowned Alumnus to Deliver Chemistry Centennial LectureRonald Eby helped develop life-saving Prevnar vaccine
- ESF Alum Honored by White House Science teacher lauded for excellence
- ESF Alumnus Wins Award for Sustainable Dog TreatsFull Circle Feed honored with People & Planet Award
- Verostek to present on Fletcher Steele Famed landscape architect designed over 700 gardens in U.S.
- ESF Education Helps Alumnus Launch Agritourism SuccessCritz Farms expands into craft beverage movement
- Alumna's Career Changes But Environmental Focus RemainsWildlife ecology class earns credit for her mindset
- Alumna Launches Career with Saws and LlamasForest service job takes graduate deep into the Rocky Mountains
- Advice for Graduates: Stay United, 'Enjoy Your Wisdom'Class of 2016 celebrates at Commencement
- Michael AmadoriEntrepreneur makes, sells sustainable dog treats
- Dr. Nancy MathewsEducational leader
- Holly AndersenReshaping a campus through sustainable construction
- Wendy AndringaLandscape architect thinks vertical with Green Walls
- Robert W. HargroveDirector EPA's NEPA Compliance Division
- Zachary WentworthLawyer
- Howard "Bud" RisRetired president of Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) MLA, 1975
- Matt RayoSyracuse Common Councilor
- Ana Maria MenezesUnited Nations Consultant
- Stephen KayGolf course architect
- Delfin Ganapin Jr. Global Manager of the UN Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Program
- Douglas G. DellmoreRetired business entrepreneur supports ESF student research
- Scott FonteDirector of aquaculture for Aqua Vita Farms
- Mary GiffordInternational Experience
- Anne PapageorgeVice President of Facilities and Real Estate Services, University of Pennsylvania
- Matthew Thornton Peace Corps Volunteer
- Marc ZeppetelloLawyer receives state honor
- Joe MartensCommissioner of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
- Don MooreSmithsonian National Zoo
- Nicole FormosoLandscape Architecture
- Andrea VanBeusichemMontezuma National Wildlife Refuge
- Cariann QuickDirector of Government Relations, SUNY Student Assembly
- Scott KasprowiczBroke circumnavigation record - One stock helicopter, two guys, 15 countries, 24 time zones, 23,000 miles, in less than two weeks.
- James "Jake" McKennaOwner of Parsons-McKenna Construction Co.
- Jeff LyngColorado Governor's Energy Office
- Ronald J. Eby, Ph.D.Renowned researcher
- Robert R. PageFoundation director for the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation
- Col. Richard P. WagenaarCommander and District Engineer, New Orleans District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- Peter J. GabrielsenChief hydrologic services for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service
- Stacey L. DoddProgram director, Habitat for Humanity Ireland
- Bruce BrownellOwner of Adirondack Alternate Energy (AAE) in Northville, N.Y.