Recent Unity College graduate Shayne Van Leer prepares to set out in pursuit of a dream.  As an undergraduate, Van Leer gained varied experiences in sustainable farming.  Soon he will put the skills he developed to full use as a Peace Corps volunteer.  Details here of Van Leer’s forthcoming journey and work in Nepal are provided below, and were made available through the Peace Corps Northeast Regional Office in New York, NY.

Berlin, New Jersey Resident Begins Peace Corps Service in Nepal

Shayne Ryan Van Leer, 23, of Berlin, N.J., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Nepal on September 6 to begin training as a food security volunteer. Van Leer will live and work in a community to improve the lives of farmers in Nepal through initiatives such as organic farming techniques for sustainable crop production.

“I was motivated to join the Peace Corps when I heard a presentation from a doctor that volunteered with Doctors without Borders,” Van Leer explained.

Van Leer is the son of Dana Poole and Glenn Van Leer and a graduate of Eastern High School in Voorhees, N.J. He then attended Unity College in Unity, Maine, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, food and sustainability in 2013.

During the first three months of his service, Van Leer will live with a host family in Nepal to become fully immersed in the country’s language and culture. After acquiring the language and cultural skills necessary to assist his community, Van Leer will be sworn into service and be assigned to a community in Nepal, where he will live and work for two years with the local people.

“Unity College has helped me in many ways relating to all aspects of sustainable agriculture and has helped to develop my leadership skills,” said Van Leer.

Van Leer joins the 185 New Jersey residents currently serving in the Peace Corps and more than 4,773 New Jersey residents who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961.

About Volunteers in Nepal
Nearly 3,650 Peace Corps volunteers served in Nepal from 1962 until 2004. There are currently 20 volunteers working in Nepal. The first group of Peace Corps volunteers since 2004 arrived in Nepal in September 2012 to work as agriculture and nutrition volunteers. Volunteers are trained and work in the Nepali language.

About the Peace Corps
Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps by executive order on March 1, 1961, more than 210,000 Americans have served in 139 host countries. Today, 8,073 volunteers are working with local communities in 76 host countries in agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth in development. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment and the agency’s mission is to promote world peace and friendship and a better understanding between Americans and people of other countries. Visit for more information.

About Unity College
In recent years Unity College has gained national attention for a variety of achievements including: its focus on sustainability science, the leading-edge of 21st century ecological problem solving and the vanguard in the fight for the mitigation of global climate change; its ground-breaking “green” innovations such as the award-winning TerraHaus, the first student residence on a college or university campus built to the Passive House standard, the most energy efficient building standard in the world; and for being the first college in the United States to divest from investments in fossil fuels, igniting a growing national movement in higher education. Unity College has repeatedly received superior placement in the Washington Monthly magazine annual college rankings, including being named among the top baccalaureate colleges in 2013.

Unity College is a private college in rural Maine that provides dedicated, engaged students with a liberal arts education that emphasizes the environment and natural resources. Unity College graduates are prepared to be environmental stewards, effective leaders, and responsible citizens through active learning experiences within a supportive community.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013