Thiim ’17: Sustainability in Peace Corps – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Thiim ’17: Sustainability in Peace Corps

This year, Christian Thiim ’17, an environmental studies and political science double major, will take his background in sustainability with him to Panama, where he will serve as a sustainable agriculture systems extension agent with the Peace Corps.

In his Peace Corps role, Thiim will be placed in a rural region in Panama populated by indigenous and Latino subsistence farm families. His goal will be to help families improve their food security and resiliency by advocating for agroforestry techniques that will allow for greater crop production. He will also work to help famers increase profitability through the use of business management skills and post-harvest management techniques.

Thiim, from Acton, Mass., has been involved in environmental issues throughout his time at HWS. He currently serves as a sustainability intern for Sodexo and is the head Eco-Rep in the Office of Sustainability. Eco-Rep volunteers are students who work to improve sustainability practices at the Colleges.

“I vividly remember the moment Christian walked into my office last spring,” says Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Robin Lewis, who has been a mentor and adviser to Thiim. “He was there to talk about declaring a major in environmental studies and, within minutes of meeting him, I was impressed by how thoughtful, engaged and motivated he is.”

This spring, Thiim is completing his third course with Lewis and is conducting a half-credit independent study concerning the impacts of the Greens Growing Project, a multi-year collaboration between the environmental studies program, the Finger Lakes Institute Food Systems Program, and the Geneva Community Lunch Program.

Thiim credits the Colleges’ Fribolin Farm with providing an invaluable resource where he has been able to explore his areas of interest. “My capstone seminar at the farm was very helpful in solidifying my interests in sustainable agriculture and food security,” he says. HWS acquired Fribolin Farm in 2013. Several professors use the farm in their course work, with many additional students gaining experience at the farm through co-curricular programs, independent studies, work studies and service opportunities.

Thiim will begin his Peace Corps assignment in July with 10 weeks of language, cultural and technical training near Panama City before his placement begins in mid-September. He will remain in Panama until September 2019.