Peace Corps Volunteer Dies In Paraguay; Cause Of Death Still Unknown

A Peace Corps volunteer died last week while on assignment in Paraguay.

Peace Corps member Porter Knight died in his host country last week, but so far Paraguayan officials have not determined the cause of death, but assert that no foul play is suspected.

The 28-year old had followed his aunt’s example by joining the United States volunteer program and was working as an environment conservation project volunteer in the rural community of "3 de Noviembre," in the department of Guaira. While in the country, he worked closely with Paraguayans – especially with local teachers, students, subsistence farmers and neighbors – to create environmental awareness in their country and inspire them to take action to address local environmental issues.

“Porter’s lifelong commitment to protecting our precious natural resources made him an extraordinary Peace Corps volunteer,” acting director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said in a press release. “He was generous and open in sharing his expertise with friends and colleagues in his community of service. This is an enormous loss for the entire Peace Corps family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Knight family during this difficult time.”

Peace Corps staff in Paraguay said Porter was “very well-regarded as a true professional and well-respected in the community,” where he led a number of conservation and sustainability projects that promoted renewable fuel, gardening and composting, as well as tactics for improved crop production.

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He received his undergraduate degree in environmental science from Ferrum College in Ferrum, Va., and his master’s degree in environmental science and engineering from Virginia Tech. Besides his work in the Peace Corps, Porter also designed and coordinated the installation of a sanitation system to provide clean drinking water in Puerto Rico and studied livestock in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The Peace Corps has not released any information about his death or when his body will be repatriated to the U.S. The program did, however, provide part of his application to the program that mentioned his eagerness to serve in the Peace Corps.

“Throughout my life, I have been eager to learn and open to new ideas that may help with environmental problems,” Porter wrote. “During my service, I will use what I have learned to help the Paraguayans the best I can. I also hope to learn a lot from them.”

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