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Peace Corps Volunteers Visit Vallarta Botanical Gardens

June 12, 2013

Peace Corps Volunteers with Vallarta Botanical Gardens Executive Director. (Left to Right) Melanie Ingalls, John Sacklin, Neil Gerlowski, and Mary Hektner.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - The Vallarta Botanical Gardens were recently visited by several volunteers from the Peace Corps and Angel Pineda, the Mexican Director of this US-based organization whose work throughout the world goes a long way towards helping important humanitarian and environmental causes.

The Vallarta Botanical Gardens are now under consideration to help host a Peace Corps Volunteer along with the local CONANP Office (National Commission of Protected Natural Areas). Our next volunteer training will be December 7, 2013.

Mary Hektner, John Sacklin and Melanie Ingalls are volunteers with the United States Peace Corps here in Mexico. John and Mary are working at Parque Nacional Volcán Nevado de Colima near Ciudad Guzman in southern Jalisco.

Both retired from careers with the National Park Service in the United States. They were at Yellowstone National Park for nearly 20 years, and they worked at Redwood National Park prior to that. Mary is a plant ecologist and is assisting Nevado de Colima with identification and mapping of fir trees (oyamel or Abies), while John is a park planner helping with information and interpretation at Nevado de Colima.

Melanie is a communications professional who worked in senior management for conservation organizations in the United States–including the National Audubon Society and the Trustees of Reservations—before joining the Peace Corps. She is working with CONAFOR (the Mexican forest service) in Aguascalientes, and is based in the state tree nursery where she is developing and implementing an integrated interpretive plan. She is also working with the national Golden Eagle recovery team in its pilot volunteer nest monitoring project.

The Peace Corps has been working in México since 2004, and currently about 60 volunteers are working throughout central México. The volunteers are helping fulfill the mission of the Peace Corps, which is to provide assistance to the Mexican people by responding to their needs with qualified volunteers, promote knowledge and understanding of Americans to the Mexican people, and promote knowledge and understanding of the Mexican people to Americans.

Located 30 minutes south of Old Town at Km. 24 on Highway 200, Vallarta Botanical Gardens offer something to keep every age group happy; from a Rose Garden for the romantic to jungle trails for the adventurous and a Carnivorous Plants area for the younger generation! The Botanical Gardens' vibrant and elegant settings also offer the perfect venue for weddings and special occasions. For more information, call (322) 223-6182 or visit

Click HERE to learn more about Vallarta Botanical Gardens.