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U.S. EPA Retiree Embarks on Challenging Peace Corps Tour of Duty Environmental educator will volunteer in remote African location for 2 years

Release Date: 05/28/2008
Contact Information: Mary Simms (415) 947-4270,

***Members of the media: If you are interested in covering this unique human interest story, please contact the media liaison listed below.

(5/28/08 -- SAN FRANCISCO) A commitment to protecting the environment is a conviction shared by many Californians. But most would hesitate to journey the distance Philip Armstrong will travel to continue his mission of environmental stewardship, and bring his environmental ideals to life.

    At age 57 with more than 32 years of federal service, Environmental Protection Specialist Philip Armstrong has been eligible for retirement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since 2005. But, he wasn’t ready to retire – until now. Armstrong will retire from the EPA this week, pack up his belonging, and prepare to move to the west African nation of Mauritania where he will become a Peace Corps volunteer and work as an environmental educator.

    “When I applied I checked the box to go anywhere and do anything,” said Armstrong, whose extensive volunteer work in the Bay Area includes environmental education at the Crissy Field Center and crisis counseling with San Francisco Suicide Prevention. “I’ve found that doing service for others improves my life.”

    Following a competitive application process with the Peace Corps Armstrong was selected for a volunteer assignment in Mauritania focused on environmental education. Armstrong’s project in Mauritania will include work with primary school children to raise awareness of environmental issues in the west African nation.

    Sans any of the modern day conventions he currently enjoys, Armstrong hopes to raise awareness about important environmental issues facing Mauritanians -- like climate change, which has lead to rapid desertification. Desertification is defined by the United Nations Environment Programme as land degradation in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas of the world resulting from a combination of factors including climatic variations and human activities. Armstrong seeks to use his knowledge of environmental issues to raise awareness about the affect humans have on their environment, and will help develop plans for communities to live in harmony with nature and reduce their environmental footprint.