Madison ranks No. 7 this year among metropolitan areas for producing the most Peace Corps volunteers, per capita. The Wisconsin college town generated 51 volunteers this year, or 8.97 volunteers for every 100,000 residents, and it moved up 10 spots from its No. 17 ranking in 2011.
Wisconsin is No. 16 among states in producing Peace Corps volunteers, with 212 of its residents currently making a difference in communities overseas. On the whole, Wisconsin produces 3.7 volunteers for every 100,000 state residents.
Tamara England-Zelenski, a Peace Corps education volunteer now serving in Armenia, raised a son and worked for more than 30 years in her hometown of Madison and plans to return to the city after she completes her service.
“For being a smallish Midwestern city, Madison is pretty open and accommodating,” England-Zelenski, 59, said. “There is a large international population due to the university, and there’s an intellectual openness and striving that has played out in Madison in many ways over the years. People are generally generous with both their time and energy. Maybe because it is so livable, there is time to be human, to create connections. People are not indifferent. And that was the atmosphere in which I grew up, went to university, and lived most of my adult life.”
Historically, Wisconsin has produced 5,740 Peace Corps volunteers who have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries in which they have served.
“I am proud that Madison and Wisconsin are so well represented in Peace Corps service worldwide,” said Peace Corps Midwest Acting Regional Manager Joshua Becker, a returned Peace Corps volunteer who served in Fiji. “Our region has a strong network of returned volunteers who believe that Peace Corps makes a difference in the communities served, in the lives of volunteers themselves, and in the United States. By sharing their own experiences living and working in communities abroad, they bring a global perspective back to Wisconsin and inspire others to consider international service. These accounts are very powerful for people to hear.”
Additionally, the University of Wisconsin-Madison consistently places on the Peace Corps’ annual list of schools that produce the most alumni volunteers. This year, the school ranks third, with 107 alumni currently serving overseas. More than 3,000 UW-Madison alumni have served since the agency was created in 1961.
Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo., topped all metro areas in the per-capita rankings, with nearly 15 out of every 100,000 residents making a difference as Peace Corps volunteers overseas. A complete list of top states and metro areas is available here.
Peace Corps is a life-defining leadership experience for Americans who are prepared for the challenge of public service overseas. Volunteers return home as global citizens with cross-cultural, leadership, language, teaching and community development skills that position them well for advanced education and professional opportunities in a 21st-century job market.
Peace Corps’ eight regional recruiting offices across the United States work to recruit and provide information to prospective Peace Corps volunteers. The Midwest regional recruiting office serves Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin, and Peace Corps recruiters work locally throughout the region. Interested applicants are encouraged to apply now at www.peacecorps.gov/apply for an opportunity to be making a difference overseas by summer or fall 2013 and into early 2014.
About the Peace Corps: Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps by executive order on March 1, 1961, more than 210,000 Americans have served in 139 host countries. Today, 8,073 volunteers are working with local communities in 76 host countries in agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth in development. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment and the agency’s mission is to promote world peace and friendship and a better understanding between Americans and people of other countries. Visit www.peacecorps.gov for more information.
*Peace Corps data current as of September 30, 2012. The metropolitan area data used to determine Peace Corps’ rankings are derived from the most current U.S. Census Bureau “Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Area” data. The U.S. Census population data is based on 2009 estimates. Volunteers self-report their home city and state on their Peace Corps application.