Keeping it Green in the Peace Corps

Natalie Lake ('12) joined the Peace Corps to educate communities about renewable energy

Natalie LakeAfter graduation, Natalie Lake (’12) sought hands-on experience applying the green technologies she studied at McCormick. Armed with a passion for sustainability and an enthusiasm to help others, she joined the Peace Corps, and is helping educate communities in Peru about renewable energy through interactive environmental projects.

How would you describe your experience as a Peace Corps volunteer?

My experience in the Peace Corps has been the weirdest, most challenging, and most rewarding of my life. For the past two years, I’ve been working as an environmental volunteer in Peru focusing on resource management, waste management, and environmental education.

I’ve helped build and install two biodigesters, a photovoltaic solar panel system, and a wind turbine. I’ve also implemented microturbines and pico solar units in five schools to use in climate change education, built a small native tree nursery in my town, and helped my community start a recycling program.

Please share your favorite memory from your time at McCormick.

I actually really miss the crazy all-nighters I used to pull in Tech—getting a room with fellow engineers, using three different types of caffeine to try to stay up, eating a million different snacks, and taking power naps underneath tables. It all brings back great memories.

What lessons from McCormick have helped you most in your Peace Corps work?

Problem solving. I find that I approach problems in a different way than my community partners do, and this has proven to be an incredibly useful skill in the Peace Corps where Murphy’s law rules—anything that can go wrong, will go wrong!