19 SLO County residents serving in the Peace Corps

Nineteen San Luis Obispo area residents are serving in the Peace Corps, giving it the highest number of volunteers of any metropolitan area in California, the Peace Corps has announced.

San Luis Obispo County supplants Santa Cruz, which had the most volunteers last year.

“San Luis Obispo has a long legacy of sending their finest into the Peace Corps, particularly those with backgrounds in our harder-to-fill assignments, such as sustainable agriculture and environment positions,” said Robbie Robinson, regional manager for Peace Corps recruitment in Southern California and Arizona.

In a press release, the Peace Corps cited Cal Poly professor Wayne Howard as an example of a person “with the kind of technical skill set that the Peace Corps prizes.”

Along with his wife, Howard spent two years working in agricultural cooperatives in the Philippines with the Peace Corps. He followed that experience with a Ph.D in agricultural economics, the Peace Corps wrote, “and has been a fixture in Cal Poly’s agribusiness department since 1999, as well as an inspiration to any students contemplating the Peace Corps.”

In statewide rankings, the organization wrote, “California easily outpaces all other states, with more than twice as many volunteers as its closest rival, New York.”

California has 1,202 volunteers overseas, up from 1,134 residents last year, and New York has 490. Historically, California has produced 27,913 volunteers in the Peace Corps’ 50-year history.

To see the full list of Peace Corps Top states and metro regions, visit the Peace Corps website at http://www.peacecorps.gov.

The Peace Corps is recruiting Americans from all backgrounds and skill levels. The organization particularly encourages applications from Americans with backgrounds in agriculture, the environment, teaching English as a second language, and “other technical or language skills related to Peace Corps assignment areas, such as French or Spanish language.”

More than 200,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corps in 139 countries over its 50 years. Today, 9,095 volunteers are in 75 countries.