Katrina Schnobrich

Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay.

Kat was both a Peace Corps Volunteer and a graduate student in the Loret Miller Ruppe Peace Corps Masters International Program at Michigan Tech. Find out more about this program at http://peacecorps.mtu.edu/ .

Letter written November 24 and November 26 and November 30, 1997

The Peace Corps Assignment:

“I am very lucky to have a great APCD in that she is very interested in the MI program. She tried to give me a site where I could fulfill a project possibly with the Fundacion Moises Bertoni. ... [T]heir projects include conservation of woodlots in 11 de Septiembre to form a biological corridor connected to the reserve and possibly the management of natural regeneration in fields. ... It [Kat’s site] is a very exciting place for agroforestry. I am the first female volunteer and the first [Peace Corps] agroforester to come - before it was beekeepers, but there is not enough interest in bees here, more so in trees. ... The book “Prophets of Agroforestry” is all about the history of my site - how convenient eh?!! ”

Travel to and from the Peace Corps Assignment

Nov. 24 - “It has rained the past 4 days, including today. I may not be able to make it back to Aregua on time. Rain = no micros (buses).”

Nov. 26 - "I am 120-150 km off pavement so when it rains the buses don't run. I have to make it to Aregua sooner or later ..."

Nov. 30 - “I made it back yesterday, Nov 29 - about 12-14 hours travel time. Our bus (well one bus) got stuck in the mud - bad. We weren’t going anywhere but a farmer up the road had a John Deere tractor and came and pulled us out.”

May 22

"Wow, I had a really shitty experience yesterday on the buses trying to get to the direccion de semillas to buy onion seeds and watermelon. I hate this place sometimes and would really like to throw the books in and just come home to the norm, but it was just one day in the life of Peace Corps volunteer. So I am stuck right now in Asuncion because the 160 km dirt road is very bad right now and last night no buses left from the city. ... Just means I will probably have to get out and push or sleep on the bus if it gets stuck."

August 5

"I have moved across the street into the first volunteers house. Needed a lot of repairs but I have been in it for 3 weeks now and loving every minute of it. I have a 12 hectare plot to do whatever project I would like too. Exciting shit!! I want to plant my bananas early so I can receive the fruit before my time is up here."

The John and Harriet Dunning Prize
for the Conservation of
South American Forests


Made possible by the generosity of John and Harriet Dunning, this prize is given to an individual in recognition of his or her outstanding contribution to the conservation of South America forests:

1997 Winner: Silvino Gonzalez

Silvino Gonzalez has dedicated more than 20 years of his life to protecting Paraguay's rich biodiversity. During much of that time, he has worked with the country's Department of National Parks and Wildlife and currently chief of park rangers at Defensores del Chaco National Park, which employs only four park guards to cover an area of 1.9 million acres. Nonetheless, Silvino has provided outstanding management for one of the region's most important protected areas.

Recently, he has been working with local and regional authorities in the states of Boqueron and Alto Paraguay to halt illegal activities such as hunting, wildlife trade, logging, and habitat destruction.

Silvino's field expertise is renowned. He has spent a great deal of time in solitude at the field site of Madrejon in the Chaco, which is among the most isolated sites in Paraguay. His extraordinary skill in surviving in this often harsh environment while struggling to protect it is admired by those who have worked alongside him. Whether he is struggling in his vehicle through mud and heavy rain or negotiating with officials, Silvino consistently makes sacrifices to achieve his goals. His abilities to perform field medicine, to operate and repair radio equipment, and to cook a satisfying meal in the remotest regions of the park have made him practically a legend in the Chaco.


Over the years Silvino has worked alongside many Peace Corps Volunteers. Each one of them has found him to be a great source of knowledge, purpose, and inspiration.

He will be recognized by The Nature Conservancy on Wednesday, 28 January 1998 at a dinner in Washington,DC.

Information on Award supplied by Ron Mader
El Planeta Platica: Eco Travels in Latin America

4 November 1998

"I am hoping to be camping in the biological reserve next to my site for a few days, maybe even kill a turkey to cook in my new brick stove."

23 Feb 1999

"I have added a Paraguayan kitchen on to my home with brick oven. Works great. My neighbor and I have made homemade bread, pizza, cinnamon rolls, cake, chipaguaza, and bread rolls. Lots of fun."

15 March 1999

"We began the first meeting with the idea of forming a new committee in 11 de Setiembre. Cirilo Anita, of the FMB, has been the extension agent in the coordination of this project. We discussed the benefits of being a committee in regards to water running projects (Tendal, 3km), tree nurseries-always having a source of seedlings to be outplanted, and areas of improving the general health of the community. In the project outlined by the FMB, exists an incentive of 3,500 tree seedlings for the community to plant right now, it was discussed who had interest in planting any cantidad of the 3 species available. One being an exotic species Paraiso gigante with an incredible fast rate of growth. The other two being native species to promote forest enrichment, Peterevy (Cordia trichotoma) and Yvyra pytã (Peltophorum dubium). These three species are commonly produced as merchantable timber for such products as lumber, furniture, fruit crates and fire wood. Paraiso gigante does well open fields and can be cultivated with crops to ensure better management and less care if it were planted alone. In order for the farmer to produce merchantable lumber from this species one must provide intense management to ensure its value. The other two species mentioned above, during this summer season will take much better in the role of forest enrichment. This is cutting 1m (in width) rows in their forested areas and planting at a 5m distance from the next. Because of the extreme heat now, these two species will take better with semi-shade and rich nutrient soils. It was stated by one of the woman participants "Che aipota peteî reserva'i," directly translated to say "I would like a small reserve". Meanwhile her husband has outplanted 200 native species into her forest trying enrichment practices.

"Another main project of interest is that of forming a women's group, concentrating on the wives of the men in the committee. With the help of the FMB, I have built a small brick oven as an addition to my home to facilitate such activities as making marmalades of the local fruit of season, home-made soap, home-made shampoo, and healthier forms of cooking with the local resources. Another point of interest is that of an upcoming farmers market in the neighboring town of Villa Ygatimí, for this we will discuss gardening activities as a source of extra income for these women to better their households. I have asked the FMB about possibly providing various garden seeds (green pepper, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, carrots, etc.) as an incentive for the women to join the committee. There is an endless amount of possibilities in this area, so this is just a beginning with the efforts of the PCV and FMB in the coordinating of activities with this particular community."

Orange home made wine by Katz
peel oranges so as not to have the savor of the peel in the juice
squeeze the juice out using a colander to catch the pulp and seeds
then add sugar accordingly, add more than you think this is the life support of the wine.
Then what I use is yeast to increase the fermentation rate (only to drink sooner)
This is the same way I prepare the yeast to make home made bread but using only a cup of luke warm water, honey and 2 spoons of dry yeast this is for about 5 liters of juice, let the yeast do its thing in the luke warm water and add to juice mixture
then bottle the wine topping it with thin material to breathe respirate because it will blow up on you if you top it cutting off the air circulation.
Let sit for 2 months filtering every 15 or so days, this mixes up the substance to better the fermentation as well.

3 August 1999

The weather here is great, not too hot, not too cold. In between. Work is going, but also in a slump. I am trying to organize an excursion for the farmers so as not to lose hope and interest in the tree nursery. Which is beautiful by the way and producing ... a wide range of activities, vegetable production, citrus production, yerba mate production as well as two species of tree seedlings in progress.

Kat at work in Arlington National Cemetery.

Alex Wild was the Peace Corps Volunteer in 11 de Setiembre before Kat. Here's his web page.

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most recent update: February 12, 2002.