[Sustainable (development or growth): consumption of natural resources that meets present needs and that allows future generations to meet their needs.  Natl. Wildlife Federation]

Since 1989 VISIONS service projects have involved the heart, determination, sweat and rewards of literally 1000’s of teenagers and their leaders.  With our local partners’ input to determine the service projects in their communities, VISIONS participants and staff have constructed more than 50 homes and 20 schools in poor communities, a massive fire station compound, health clinics, community centers, playgrounds, baseball fields and outdoor basketball courts, community pavilions and ceremonial structures.

The list, literally, goes on and on. [See last paragraph.] Whether laboring with adobe, block and mortar, or wood for traditional carpentry, VISIONS groups have seen no shortage of construction accomplishments.Much of VISIONS service has had an environmental focus over the last two decades as well.  In recent seasons, especially, our partners at home and abroad are requesting assistance in meeting environmentally sustainable goals.  In Nicaragua our local partner AVODEC taught VISIONS participants how to build 10 compostable toilets for Jinotega families. The toilets use microorganisms to convert waste into soil, a practice that represents an actively broad movement in northern Nicaragua to reduce the volume of contaminated water emptying into the river systems.  Nicaragua participants also helped construct a potable water system for a community.

In Peru, with local partner ProPeru Service Corp, VISIONS has been installing cocinas,
clean burning stoves, in indigenous families’ homes for several years.  Using only locally affordable basic materials, one stove reduces one ton of carbon emissions per year compared to traditional stoves.  Because the stoves also burn more efficiently, each stove means a 20 – 60% reduction in firewood and other fuel consumption.  Coupled with environmental benefits are the health benefits because cocinas put out markedly less smoke than traditional stoves, thereby greatly reducing families’ indoor smoke inhalation.

Video of Clean Burning Stoves.

Other sustainable projects have included construction of cisterns, wildlife observatory decks, sea turtle hatcheries, bridges and walkways to protect vegetation, wells, septic tanks, irrigation canals, greenhouses and biodigestors.  VISIONS participants have planted hundreds of trees, eradicated invasive plant species in the Galapagos, Montana, Costa Rica; and helped plant and harvest dozens of organic gardens, to name a few.

We will continue to feature Sustainable Projects in future newsletters. For now, you might like to take a look at some of our project “grand totals” over the years.  Please go to our Facebook Page.

VISIONS in The New York Times