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“A Place You Call Home”

A visit with Peace Corps Fellows, MU's Peace Corps Fellows Program

By LuAnne Roth
Published: - Topics: global international volunteer Peace Corps

Craig Hutton, Ecuador 1999 - 2001

Topics: Peace Corps volunteer

Craig Hutton
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Craig Hutton’s background on a dairy farm in upstate New York came in handy while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador from 1999-2001. He had studied French and Spanish for years, and had even participated in a study-abroad program in Ecuador, so Hutton wasn’t worried about language or cultural issues. “What I was nervous about was the actual technical assignment,” he recalls. “I’d grown up on a dairy farm, but I didn’t know anything about cattle or fish in Ecuador at all.” While Hutton’s major projects involved animal production and animal health, like most Peace Corps volunteers he ended up “doing a little bit of everything.”
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Hutton analyzed the farming techniques of the community of 85 people and also introduced a greenhouse to the local school. Parents enlisted him to teach English as he gardened with the students, he explains: “We ended up using the food that was grown for the elementary school lunches. It was really good.” Taking advantage of the cloud forest environment in this region of Ecuador, situated between the mountains and the Amazon, Hutton also helped spearhead a fish-farming cooperative: “It was something the community wanted to do, and they talked to me about it. We went on a couple of fieldtrips to learn more about it, and then started a small cooperative of our own.” The environment was ideal for this venture, says Hutton; "not many people live there, and the water was really cold and clean, which is something we needed for the fish.” There were a few other communities in the same zone that had tried that before and had had success,” he reports, in terms of both economics as well as learning different business skills.
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When asked to recount some of his most memorable moments in Ecuador, Hutton mentions a particularly embarrassing moment at a wedding, when he was served blood soup, a local specialty: “I remember just sitting there thinking, ‘Everyone is watching, and I don’t want to eat this. What am I going to do?’ So I just swallowed as quickly as I could without tasting it.”
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When Hutton finished his volunteer service in 2001, he worked five years for the Peace Corps agency at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. His Peace Corps experience also made him start thinking about graduate school, and Hutton is currently enrolled in MU’s Geography Department. “I’m studying human geography, how humans and the environment interact,” he explains. When he graduates, Hutton hopes to continue working in the area of international development.