Training & Experience in a Specific Work Sector


Leveraging concrete knowledge and skills is central to on-the-ground international development work. Through the Peace Corps Prep program, you will begin to build a professional specialty, which should serve your career well whether or not you become a Peace Corps Volunteer.  



For Peace Corps Prep, you will focus on one of six work sectors:

  1. Education
  2. Health
  3. Environment
  4. Agriculture
  5. Youth in Development
  6. Community Economic Development



You need to complete at least 3 courses that align with the specific work sector. The sector may or may not align with your academic major or minor. You must also accumulate a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer or work experience in that same  sector, preferably in a teaching or outreach capacity.



Each work sector has a list of majors or academic departments where courses might be relevant to your Peace Corps Prep program. Plan to work with your faculty advisor and the Peace Corps Prep Coordinator as you register each semester. Your schedule, the classes offered, study abroad requirements, and other campus commitments mean there are a lot of “moving parts” to making the most out of your plan. Good communication will help to keep everyone on track.



For the fifty hour requirement, there are ideas listed in each work sector. ARC manages many relationships with local non-profits and community development initiatives. Opportunities can be customized to meet your Peace Corps Prep plan. The Hart Career Center also has an extensive list of opportunities in both for-profit and non-profits agencies. The Internship Director can help you navigate the requirements for an academic credit for an internship within or outside of your major.



You are encouraged to use these campus resources. Start planning your projects early! If ever you need support, the ARC has tools and connections to assist with community-based research and project management.



Peace Corps Tip!

If you intend to apply to the Peace Corps, the best way to assure that you will be a strong candidate is to identify the type of assignments in which you'd like to serve through this interactive tool, then review the positions' desired qualifications and build them up accordingly.  In the process, you should fulfill these Peace Corps Prep experiential requirements!



1: Education

Teach lessons that last a lifetime. Education is the Peace Corps' largest program area. Volunteers play an important role in creating links among schools, families, and communities. Placements may be in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools and subject areas may include math, science, literacy, and reading. Volunteers also develop libraries and technology resource centers.

If you choose Education, your three courses may come from one of the following areas:

  • Elementary Education
  • English
  • Secondary Education
  • Mathematics
  • Computer Science
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Biology


AND build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:

  • Teaching in one of these or a similar form: in a classroom, with a community outreach organization, or in a formal tutoring capacity. The subject of the teaching may be English as a Foreign/Second Language, special education, drama, or a STEM subject.
  • Tutor children at an after-school program such as Western Avenue Community Center, The Boys & Girls Club, UNITY Community Center, or Milestones Early Learning Center
  • Assist the Bloomington Public Library in a special event such as Dia de los Ninos or India Day to teach both literacy and culture education
  • Volunteer to assist with the drama club at Bloomington Junior High School
  • Participate in the Reading Buddies partnership with Bent Elementary School
  • Teach coding classes at the Cyber Space computer lab at the West Bloomington Revitalization Project (WBRP) office
  • Build SmartScopes with the Regional Alternative School and train students how to use lab equipment
  • Manage the Maker Space at the Children's Discovery Museum in Normal, Illinois
  • Install Little Free Libraries and gather book donations to keep them stocked


2: Health

Serve on the front lines of global health.  Health Volunteers work within their communities to promote important topics such as nutrition, maternal and child health, basic hygiene, and water sanitation.  Volunteers also work in HIV/AIDS education and prevention programs to train youth as peer educators, develop appropriate education strategies, provide support to children orphaned by the pandemic, and create programs that provide emotional and financial support to families and communities affected by the disease.


If you choose Health, your three courses may come from one of the following areas:

  • Nursing
  • Health
  • Pre-Med
  • Biology
  • Pre-Dentistry
  • Pre-Vet
  • Pre-Optometry
  • Psychology
  • Environmental Studies
  • Educational Studies
  • Sociology

AND build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:

  • Volunteer or work experience in such areas as HIV/AIDS outreach, hospice, family, planning counseling, emergency medical technician (EMT) or CPR teaching/certification, maternal health, and hands-on caregiving in a hospital, clinic, or lab technician setting
  • Assist at the Community Health Care Clinic (a free clinic for people who are uninsured or underinsured) or on the mobile health clinic van
  • Volunteer at Immanuel Health Clinic on the Westside, OSF Hospital, or Advocate BroMenn Hospital
  • Counseling or teaching in health subjects
  • Becoming an instructor for the American Red Cross of the Heartland
  • Working as a resident advisor in a dormitory, as a peer nutritionist, or as a sexually transmitted infections counselor
  • Significant experience in mechanical repairs, construction, carpentry, masonry, plumbing, hydrology, or set design.  For example, coordinate a workshop for the Tool Library in weatherization for old homes
  • Assist at the annual free dental clinic through the McLean County Township
  • Create downtown walking paths with the McLean County Wellness Coalition
  • Train with young women through the Girls Run Club at the Boys & Girls Club
  • Mentor young men in the Lawrence Irwin Neighborhood Center basketball league
  • Assist with the Early Intervention Task Force to promote health habits among low income families in subsidized childcare
  • Write a grant with the McLean County Regional Planning Commission to study the health risks in target areas


3: Environment 

Help forge a global movement to protect our planet.  Volunteers lead grassroots efforts in their communities to protect the environment and strengthen understanding of environmental issues.  They teach environmental awareness in elementary and secondary schools and to youth groups and community organizations, empowering communities to make their own decisions about how to protect and conserve the local environment.  Volunteers also address environmental degradation by promoting sustainable use of natural resources.


If you choose Environment, your three courses may come from one of the following areas:

  • Environmental Studies
  • Biology
  • Geology
  • Pre-Forestry


AND build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:

  • Educating the public on environmental or conservation issues, or working on environmental campaigns
  • Serve on the Board of the Ecology Action Center and take the lead on the annual Hazardous Waste Collection
  • Conducting biological surveys of plants or animals such as the annual invertebrate study of the Kickapoo Creek
  • Gardening, farming, nursery management, organic or low-input vegetable production, or landscaping
  • Volunteering to maintain the IWU Peace Garden, a half-acre organic garden operated by students
  • Intern at Sugar Creek Nature Center and learn about invasive plants such as garlic mustard
  • Develop the butterfly garden at Washington Elementary School to support pollinators in the area
  • Assist with the Food Forest in Normal, Illinois as the orchard begins the mature
  • Operate the Veggie Oasis project to bring farmers market produce to the Westside food desert
  • Providing technical assistance and training in natural resources management through internships at the Land Connection or Parklands


4: Agriculture

Lead grassroots efforts to fight hunger in a changing world.  Agricultural Volunteers work with small-scale farmers and families to increase food security and production and adapt to climate change while promoting environmental conservation practices.  They introduce farmers to techniques that prevent soil erosion, reduce the use of harmful pesticides, and replenish the soil.  They work alongside farmers on integrated projects that often combine vegetable gardening, livestock management, agroforestry, and nutrition education.


If you choose Agriculture, your three courses may come from one of the following areas:

  • Health
  • Environmental Studies
  • Economics
  • Biology
  • Political Science


AND build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:

  • Working with a large-scale or family-run business involving vegetable gardening, farming, nursery work, tree planting or care, urban forestry, livestock care and management, or fish cultivation and production
  • Teaching or tutoring the public in environmental or agricultural issues/activities
  • Working on the business management or marketing side of a commercial farm
  • Intern with PrairiErth Farm to learn about organic farming
  • Serve on the organizing team for the first grocery co-op in McLean County
  • Conduct soil testing throughout the county with the Master Gardeners through the University of Illinois Extension Office
  • Manage the IWU Peace Garden or the West Bloomington Community Garden


5: Youth in Development

Empower the next generation of change-makers.  Volunteers work with youth in communities on projects that promote engagement and active citizenship, including gender awareness, employability, health and HIV/AIDS education, environmental awareness, sporting programs, and info technology.


If you choose Youth in Development, your three courses may come from one of the following areas:

  • Educational Studies
  • International Studies
  • Environmental Studies
  • Sociology
  • Psychology


AND build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:

  • Teach or counsel participants in at-risk youth programs
  • Plan, organize, assess community needs, counsel, and provide leadership, in areas such as education, youth development, health, HIV/AIDS, the environment, and/or business
  • Intern with one of the many youth-focused organizations in the community including the Boys & Girls Club, UNITY Community Center, the YMCA, the YWCA, or Western Avenue Community Center
  • Conduct a voter registration drive with the League of Women Voters to engage young voters in the political process
  • Volunteer as a mentor/player with the Miracle League for youth with developmental disabilities who play baseball
  • Coach young men in the Lawrence Irwin Neighborhood Center basketball League
  • Facilitate the Teen Zone at the public library and organize teen leaders to assist with programming
  • Teach classes on entrepreneurship with Junior Achievement and help the student governments of elementary schools to operate school stores
  • Build homes with youth in the YouthBuild charter school as they earn volunteer hours and academic credit


6: Community Economic Development

Harness 21st century tools to help communities lift themselves.  Volunteers work with development banks, nongovernmental organizations, and municipalities to strengthen infrastructure and encourage economic opportunities in communities.  They frequently teach in classroom settings and work with entrepreneurs and business owners to develop and market their products.  Some Volunteers also teach basic computer skills and help communities take advantage of technologies such as e-commerce, distance learning, and more.


If you choose Community Economic Development, your three courses may come from one of the following areas:

  • Business Administration
  • Economics
  • Accounting Services
  • Computer Science
  • Graphic Design
  • Risk Management
  • Financial Services
  • International Business
  • Political Science


  AND build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:

  • Work with businesses, organizations, or cooperatives in accounting, finance, microfinance, management, project management, budgeting or marketing

  • Start and run your own business or other entrepreneurial activity

  • Train others in computer literacy, maintenance, and repair

  • Design websites or develop online marketing strategies

  • Found or lead a community- or school-based organization

  • Work with the local free trade, Crossroads, to develop and online sales platform

  • Host small business owners on campus to discuss entrepreneurship and create a video series of their talks

  • Study local Tax Increment Financing districts and analyze the feasibility of future TIFs along Main Street

  • Partner with the Downtown Bloomington Association to survey existing business owners and host the annual membership meeting

  • Start a microfinance program to assist rising small business owners

  • Assist with the co-working space for entrepreneurs in Normal, Illinois called Slingshot and coordinate the 1 Million Cups initiative on Wednesday mornings

  • Provide the voice of millennials as part of the BN Advantage initiative

  • Map free internet connections in the community and create ways to increase connectivity in low income areas