8:28 PM 10/11/2006 ECOLOGIA's International Exchanges

ECOLOGIA's International Exchanges
Making Professional and Personal Connections Across Cultures

ECOLOGIA designs and hosts a variety of environmental and human services exchange programs. Visitors to the United States build connections to like-minded Americans working in their field, and enrich the communities they visit by sharing their knowledge and perspectives. More than 375 participants have taken part since our first exchange in 1990.

Open World Hosting Programs in Vermont

ECOLOGIA organizes Open World exchange programs in Vermont, for international groups working on a variety of environmental issues. Visiting delegates stay with host families and attend a variety of professional and cultural activities. Open World exchanges are funded by the US House of Representatives, through the US Library of Congress.

September 2006: Russian Environmental Education and Sustainable Development

Galina Parshina, a state emissions inspector from Orenberg, Svetlana Skorodumova, an educator with the "Cranes Homeland" nature preserve near Moscow, Olga Belonogova, a veterinary border inspector in the Amursk District of the Russian Far East, and Kseniya Korneva, a student at the University of Humanities (Moscow) and a resident of Mineralnya Vody (Caucasus), spent a week living in the Middlebury area. Oxana Nosova from Rostov-on-Don traveled with the group as their bilingual facilitator.

Left to right: Galina, Kseniya, Oxana, Alec Webb, President of Shelburne Farms Board of Directors, Olga and Svetlana. Paul Grenier, professional interpreter, is in front. At Shelburne Farms, delegates learned about "Sustainable Schools" programs that link school classes to actual working farms.

Don Maglienti (red shirt), Addison County Solid Waste Reduction Program Coordinator, meets with the visiting delegation to discuss source separation and recycling.

In the Otter Creek Brewery in Middlebury, Morgan Wolaver explains how Wolavers Organic Ales are produced and promoted.

Ross Conrad (center), Operations Manager at Vermont Soap Company, explained how organic ingredients make Vermont Soap products very gentle and effective, even for people with extreme sensitivities.

At NRG Systems in Hinesburg, delegates saw how a LEED-certified factory building is both environmentally sound and healthy for its human inhabitants. NRG Systems, producers of wind measuring systems for wind turbines, is dedicated to 'walking the talk' about sustainable development, and educating the public about the economic as well as environmental benefits of wind and solar power. Marguerite Griffiths, International Sales Manager for NRG, is at the right.

Vermont host Judy Holler and her guest Oxana both learned about wind power at NRG Systems.

November 2005: Russian Environmental Educators and Ecotourism

Five delegates from across Russia visited Vermont for a professional exchange program on the topics of environmental education, public ecological awareness, and ecotourism:

  • Lada Kozlova, Teacher of Chemistry, Biology and Ecology at Taganrog Secondary School in Rostov Oblast,
  • Svetlana Starodubets from Bryansk State university,
  • Marina Funtikova from the Volodya Dubinin children's Art House in Novisibirsk, and
  • Svetlana Shchigreva, Ecology and Biology Teacher and Vice-President of the Ecological Club of Altai State University.

    Photo: Visit to American Flatbread, which manufactures and markets frozen pizzas using local organic ingredients. Among other innovations, Flatbread uses original art on its boxes, to inspire as well as to educate.

    Organizational Development for Lithuanian NGO Leaders, October 2004

    The Lithuanian delegates were Arunas Balsevicius of Mariampole, Dalia Barkauskiene of Silute, Virgilijus Skulskis of Vilnius, and Linas Vainius of Kaunas. All are leaders in non-governmental organizations involved with environmental protection and/or agricultural issues. Ekaterina Samoilovic of Kaunas provided English-language assistance.

    Below: Delegates visited the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, in Burlington, to learn about the ecosystem of the region.

    Below: At VBSR (Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility) in South Burlington, delegates discussed examples with Executive Director Spence Putnam.

    September 2004: Environmental Issues for Russian Delegates

    The Russian delegates were Valeriy Knizhnik from Orenberg in the Southern Urals, Vitaliy Lyadov from Perm in the Ural Mountains, Vladimir Kruk from Okha, on Sakhalin Island, and Galina Stretskaya from Vladivostok. Each is involved in regional environmental issues and works to build coalitions between NGOs and governmental bodies. Artem Shestapalov of Lipetsk assisted the group with his English language knowledge.

    Below: Russian delegates saw alternative energy in action when they visited a household running on solar power, thanks to John Blittersdorf of Vermont Solar and Wind in Rutland.

    Below: During a visit to Otter Creek Brewing and Wolaver's Organic Ales, delegates learned about brewing and marketing organic beers from Morgan Wolaver.

    Below: David Brynn, Addison County Forester and Executive Director of Vermont Family Farms in Bristol, explains techniques and concepts of forest stewardship.

    Larger Group Exchanges through US AID and the Academy for Educational Development

    September/October 2003: Streamlining the Industrial Air Discharge Permitting Process

    Regional (Oblast) and National Heads of the Kazakh Ministry of Environmental Protection, and members of the Kazakstan Business Association for Sustainable Development, spent two weeks traveling throughout Pennsylvania. They studied how regulators and businesses in the United States design and implement air pollution controls through the use of permits. They visited several different regions of Pennsylvania, including the oil refining area in the Northwest, the industrial area of Pittsburgh, and the coal-mining areas of Wilkes-Barre and Scranton. They participated in a panel discussion by professionals from the Allegheny County Air and Waste Management Association, questioned US EPA officials about the development of the Clear Air Act, and saw the air emissions monitoring inside a cement plant which burns hazardous wastes. This exchange was funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

    Below: At Keystone Cement Company in Bath, participants discuss air emissions monitoring.

    Below: Tess Roberts, of Palmerton Citizens for a Clean Environment, explains the history of this area's ecological damage from zinc smelting, including its inclusion on the Superfund list.

    Below: Bek-Bulat Yeleushov, Head of the Department of State Control, Ministry of Environmental Protection of Kazakhstan, makes a point about the location of hazardous waste storage areas in a flood plain in Palmerton.

    Below: Rafael Akkmetov (on left), Director of Ecocom Ltd environmental consulting company in Almaty, shares a humorous moment with ECOLOGIA's Heather McGray and Randy Kritkausky after their presentation on Environmental Management Systems.

    Below: Director Chuck Duritsa and Air Quality experts Ron Schwartz and Dave Janko of the Southwest Pennsylvania Regional Department of Environmental Protection, in Pittsburgh, explain how they use the permitting process to manage industrial air emissions.

    June 2003: Innovative Anti-Smoking and Anti-Alcohol/Substance Abuse Programs

    Participants from all five Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan) spent two weeks in Vermont and Kentucky, as they examined American efforts to reduce tobacco and substance abuse through public education, legislation, prevention and treatment. This exchange was funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

    Below: Jakki Flannigan, of the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Vermont in Burlington, explains lobbying and public outreach techniques.

    Below: Participants hear about partnerships
    involving police and community members in Rutland, Vermont

    Brian Templeton, Editor of the Rutland Tribune, interviews Viktor Tilman, a doctor at Tilman Family Practice in Kazakhstan, and Gulmira Aitmurzaeva, Director of the Center of Healthy Lifestyle of Kyrgyzstan, about tobacco and alcohol issues in their countries.

    Below: Janet Askew, a former smoker and one of the co-owners of the Maple Valley Country Store and Cafe in Plainfield, Vermont, discuses her decision to stop selling cigarettes three years ago, and the community reaction.

    Below: Dilshod Pulatov, of the Youth Prevention and Rehabilitation Center "Dina" in Khujand, Tajikistan, speaks with the founder of The Healing Place in Louisville, Kentucky

    Last modified by: C. Schmidt on 13-Oct-04
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