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UF, Peace Corps offer new program through the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

UF Master's International program signing

Click here for high resolution image. Caption at bottom.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Demand for Peace Corps volunteers with agricultural skills has helped create a new degree program available from the University of Florida.

Known as the Peace Corps Master’s International program, it allows students to travel internationally and earn a master’s degree in one of nine graduate programs in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

UF’s and the Peace Corps’ new program was signed into agreement Tuesday.

“The agreement with the Peace Corps is exciting for a number of reasons, but in particular we are excited about the opportunity to create a partnership that embodies and strengthens the dual values of service and impact that underlie the missions of both the Peace Corps and UF as a land-grant university,” said Teresa Balser, dean of CALS .

Greg MacDonald, the program’s coordinator and a professor in agronomy, said many of the current Peace Corps initiatives are strongly looking for people with agricultural and natural resources backgrounds.

UF’s Peace Corps recruiter Amy Panikowski said skills the Peace Corps needs include expertise in areas such as agriculture, forestry and animal husbandry, making the partnership with the college ideal.

“I’m really excited that we’re able to make this happen and get some really good Gators overseas, even more so than what we’ve got already,” Panikowski said.

Master’s International students will be required to complete an average of 24 credit hours of course work followed by two years of Peace Corps service. After their service, they will return to UF to finish their final credit hour requirement.

Degrees initially being offered are in agronomy, animal sciences, agricultural education and communication, entomology and nematology, food and resource economics, forest resources and conservation, plant pathology, soil and water sciences and horticultural sciences.

The program is expected to start this fall. Applicants are not required to have an undergraduate degree in science to be accepted.

UF ranks second in the nation among large colleges and universities for Peace Corps recruitment.

For more information, contact MacDonald at or Panikowski at



Writer: Robert H. Wells, 352-273-3569;

Source: Greg MacDonald,

Photo caption:

Teresa Balser (left), dean of the University of Florida’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, receives a pen from Aaron Williams (right), director of the Peace Corps, as they sign an agreement establishing the Peace Corps Master’s International program at UF on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012. The program allows students to travel internationally and earn a master’s degree in one of nine CALS disciplines. CALS is a part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and the skills students will learn in the program are ones that are in high demand in the Peace Corps. Photo by Laurie Hice Michaelson, University of Florida International Center.