BURLINGTON (AP) -- The head of the Peace Corps on Thursday visited Vermont, a state that often ranks at the top for its number of Peace Corps volunteers per capita, to highlight the contributions of some of those volunteers.
Aaron Williams joined Sen. Patrick Leahy for an event at the University of Vermont.
This year, Vermont ranked number two of the 50 states for the number of Peace Corps volunteers per capita, Leahy said. Of the 1,422 Vermont volunteers overall, 801 of them have been graduates of the UVM, Leahy said.
"That record has not only had a lasting impact on countries around the world, it has also enriched the lives of the Vermont volunteers and their families and communities here," he said.
Among those volunteers is UVM doctoral student Charles Kerchner of Burlington, who served in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic from 2001-2003.
Kerchner now imports organic cacao from the Dominican Republic to make his own brand of chocolates. The business partnership helps the cacao farmers to improve earnings while conserving land in the rainforest to protect migratory songbirds like the Bicknell's Thrush, a songbird that migrants from Vermont and the Northeast to the Dominican and Haiti.
"As you will see from our program today, Peace Corps service is a life-defining experience. Americans who come back from Peace Corps service personify what Sargent Shriver called ‘the politics of service,"' Williams said.