It’s a far distance from Emory, Va. to Lusaka, Zambia but Adam Taylor (class of 2008) is no stranger to a long journey. It was during a successful thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail during the summer of 2009 when Taylor would make a decision that would send him thousands of miles away from home to use the skills he learned while in Emory.
Taylor has been accepted as a Peace Corps volunteer and will be contributing to a project in Zambia known as LIFE – Linking Income Food & Environment. As part of the project, Taylor will serve as a Forestry Extension Agent. He will be working with rural farmers to incorporate agroforestry into their farming practices with a focus on soil and water conservation. He also will be working with local schools to set up environmental awareness groups that will try to raise critical environmental issues within the community, while working on ways to correct them. Taylor also will be working with small business entrepreneurs to help create a market for their products within their community.
Taylor was first introduced to the possibility of volunteering with the Peace Corps while sitting outside the office of Dr. Ed Davis, an E&H geography professor. Later, while hiking the 2,175 miles of the Appalachian Trail in 2009, he met a former Peace Corp volunteer.
"We were able to spend a few days together and I questioned him about it the entire time," Taylor said. "After he had told me what a positive impact it had made on his life, I knew that it was something I wanted to do. When I returned home after the hike, I applied, and a year later, I am on my way to Zambia."
It might have taken this meeting on a footpath to get Taylor to officially sign on, but his foundations for volunteerism were built at Emory & Henry. As an environmental studies major, Taylor learned about the ever-changing environment and how to bring his knowledge to others for the sake of preserving the planet. He credits the E&H Appalachian Center for Community Service program for helping him to see the importance of service.
"I originally got involved in the ACCS to start a semester-long community service project within my fraternity at Emory, Beta Lambda Zeta,"Taylor said. "After the first project, I was hooked on the rewarding feeling I got from contributing to the community without expecting anything in return, and I realized that it was something that I wanted to dedicate my life to."
Taylor says he is most excited about being a stranger in a foreign land during the next two years. He is embracing the opportunity to learn and adapt to a new culture. And he is dedicated to "doing his very best to address issues that have made the Zambian people's walk through life more difficult than it has had to be.”
He's looking forward to the possibility that his experience in Zambia will change him. "I want to come back from this experience with a new perspective on the world, and how we should try to relate to it no matter how different or odd it might seem to us outside of our own little piece," Taylor said.