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SHI Volunteer Primer

THANK YOU for helping to raise awareness about SHI’s work to address the global issues of poverty and deforestation in Central America!  Below is some information to help you with your event.  If you need additional information, materials or if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

If you will be tabling at an event, please be ready to answer some basic questions about our programs.  When people approach the table, try engaging them by asking them a question.  For example, “Have you ever heard of Sustainable Harvest International?”


THINGS TO REMEMBER: The What, Where, Why, Who, When & How
What: Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) is a 501c3 non-profit dedicated providing families in Central America with the training and tools to overcome poverty while restoring our planet’s tropical forests.

Where: SHI works with farming communities in Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua and Panama

Why: The world’s tropical forests are being lost at an alarming rate.  This loss is resulting in the extinction of native plant and animal species, a net increase in greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change, increased soil erosion, drought and flooding.  The leading cause of deforestation in the tropics is slash-and-burn farming practices.  In Central America, the most impoverished families have been pushed onto small pieces of land where traditional slash-and-burn farming practices have depleted nutrients from the topsoil.  Families are being forced to clear what little forest is left to feed their families or abandon their land and livelihoods all together.  We have demonstrated that these trends of poverty and deforestation can be reversed by empowering families to use sustainable growing techniques that require only a small piece of land that can be used year after year, without clearing more forest. 

Who: SHI’s field trainers are from the communities we serve and have an intimate knowledge of local culture, language and conditions that enable them to give families the training and support they need to end poverty and deforestation in their villages.  Each field trainer works in 4-6 villages in their district and visits families several times a month, providing them with hands-on training and some material support such as seeds and nursery bags.

How: The training that the families receive depends on the needs in their community.  Families work with their field trainer to set goals and create annual work plans which may include improving soil quality, diversifying crops, improving the family’s nutrition, restoring local watersheds and generating income.  We focus on projects that use available and appropriate materials with an emphasis on long-term sustainability.  Some of the projects that families undertake with the field trainers support are:

organic vegetable gardensseed saving & storagebocashiworm compostingwood-conserving stovesbiogas digesterssmall-scale animal husbandrycommunity loan fundsschool programsmulti-story plotsalley croppingnatural fertilizers and pesticideseco-toiletsirrigation systemschicken coopsrice paddiestree nurserieswomen's groups

When: SHI was founded in 1997 by returned Peace Corps Volunteer Florence Reed.  In the time that SHI has been working in Central America, we have seen amazing results!  Our local field trainers have helped families to plant more than 2.6 million trees and converted thousands of acres of land to sustainable uses, thereby saving tens of thousands of acres from slash-and-burn destruction.  There are thousands of families on our waiting list requesting assistance and we need your support to reach them now.

You will receive a variety of materials to help you at your event.  Please feel free to be creative and create displays of your own and let us know if you need any assistance.  If you plan to make a tabletop display or posters, there are many photos from our programs on our Flickr site.

Please be prepared!  Bring backup supplies with you as well as a collection of things that might come in handy such as coat hangers to display shirts, a table cloth or sheet, rope, “S” hooks, collection bowl for donations, pens, marker, tape, paper, paper clips and paper weights (if you will be outside).

SHI Event Form: This spreadsheet is used to track event attendance, merchandise sales, donations, newsletter sign-ups and other details about events.  If you are the event coordinator for SHI, the Outreach Director will provide you with a copy of this form to complete.

Mailing List Sign-Up Sheet:
Please encourage people to sign up for our email updates and newsletter to stay up-to-date on SHI’s efforts.  Our print newsletter goes out in the spring and the fall each year and if they provide their email address, we will also send them monthly emails about our work.  When a sign-up sheet is full, remove it from the table so it will not be lost or picked up by a visitor by mistake. 

Printed Materials (Brochures/Fliers/Newsletters): Direct people to the printed material about our programs for more information.

Annual Reports: You should have received a couple of annual reports in your box. These cost us several dollars apiece to print, so please hand them out sparingly to people who you feel may be potential major supporters of the organization.

Banner: Use rope or “S” hooks to suspend the banner above your table.

If you will be offering SHI items in exchange for donations at your event, you will receive some or all of the following:

Tee Shirts:
Shirts are available for a $20 donation to the organization.  They are fair trade and made with organic cotton.  Both men’s and women’s sizes are available.  If you don’t have a particular size on hand, you may take an order and we can ship. 

Hats: Hats are available for a $20 donation to the organization.  These ball caps are 100% organic cotton by Unionwear.  Made in the USA and guaranteed sweatshop free.

Dolls: These dolls were made by a women’s sewing cooperative working with SHI in the district of Yoro, Honduras.  They are available for a $15 donation.

Cloth Bags: Bags are from the Juan Pablo Segundo Women’s Coop in El Pital, Honduras.  Available for a $25 donation.

Note Cards: Four different designs and eight come in a package.  Available for a $15 donation.

Book: In the Eyes of Anihita by Hugo Bonjean available for a $15 donation.

Donation Bowl: Don’t forget to put a bowl, hat or other container on table to collect donations. Your container should be labeled clearly asking for donations. SHI is a 501c3 non-profit organization and donations are tax-deductible. Checks should be made payable to SHI.  We accept credit card donations as well.  Please take all credit card information including card number, full name on the card, expiration date, billing address, phone number and amount of the charge.  Be careful with money and personal credit card information!   This should be kept in a safe location and mailed to our Surry office.  Do not leave large bills out on the table. 


What Can You Do In 1 Minute?

“Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) is the ideal partner… It is one thing to visit the SHI website and read the various reports and informational materials, but seeing the program in action was incredible. It is obvious that SHI is making a real difference in improving the lives of these farmers and their families.”

~Diane Ragone, Ph.D., Director, The Breadfruit Institute, National Tropical Botanical Garden