Dillon Phillips who “grew up ag” in Stephhenville and has already done plenty at age 27, is departing on Feb. 4 for what may be the biggest adventure of his life, namely working in the Peace Corp in Madagascar for two years.
Phillips, who is an architect with a degree from Texas A&M University and masters from the University of Houston, will immediately begin three months of in-country training upon arrival.
“After training, my term of service is from May 4, 2017 to May 5, 2019 and the program is called the Agriculture Conservation Project,” he said.
Asked what attracted him to the Peace Corps, Phillips replies, “I wanted to do something substantial, not just drop off gifts and leave. That’s good too and I hope people that want to contribute that way will do so. But I just want to be more involved with the people and help bolster their food security.”
He says his work will involve several areas in the Ag sector:
• rice crop management
• home gardens
• whatever else needs doing
This won’t be his first stint out of the country, as Phillips explains, “When I was an undergrad at Texas A&M working on my degree in architecture, I did a study-abroad semester in Italy in the Tuscany region and really loved it. A&M owns a facility there for the study-abroad program and there were about 50 other students doing that, too. The architecture is amazing and it was just a great opportunity.
“After I got my masters in architecture, I then went to work for a firm in Portland. I’ve lived there since then until returning here to spend some time with my family and friends before going to Madagascar. Portland a such a beautiful place and I really liked it there, but I’m excited to get going in the Peace Corps.”
His official title in the program will be agriculture extension agent. In the program brochure, his program manager in country, Hobiniaina Rabarivelo says, “Your first task will be to determine how to best serve your community. There are five things that will help you adjust:
• cultivating social relationships
• putting effort into language learning
• taking initiative
• having motivation
• being patient
Dillon’s parents are understandably proud of what he’s doing.
His mom, Dawn Phillips says, “I’ve heard that the two things that we should give our children are roots and wings, and I feel like that we have done that for both of our boys. Their other son, Dwayne, manages a large cattle ranch with a heard of nearly 800 head and 30-plus employees in West Texas.
“I’m so proud that Dillon is following his dreams. He's a very driven, compassionate man that not only wants to see the world but make a difference in the world," she said. “He has a big heart with an eagerness to help others and he's especially conscious of the environment and reducing waste. I have no doubt that he will touch the lives of many. “
Dillon’s dad, Danny Phillips, said, “It’s hard to think of Dillon being so far away for so long, but it’s where his heart is taking him so I support him in this 100 percent.
“He wants to do this before marriage and kids; he’s 27 right now, so if he’s going to do it, now’s the time. I admire him for that.
“He’s always had big goals and he follows through on them. It’s just in him to want to give to people and this is what he’s going to be doing in the Peace Corps. I’m just so proud of him.”