Terhune Orchards Hosts a Reunion For Peace Corps Alumni and Prospects

PEACE CORPS MEMORIES: Pam and Gary Mount of Terhune Orchards volunteered in Micronesia for the Peace Corps back in the late 1960s. Gary, above and below, helped build an outrigger canoe in the time-honored tradition of the islands. (Photos Courtesy of Pam and Gary Mount)

Written by Anne Levin

Pam and Gary Mount spent the first three years of their marriage in the Peace Corps. Married only a month, the couple, who dated all through Princeton High School, set off in 1967 for a remote island in Micronesia. There, and on smaller islands in the western Pacific Ocean chain, they did agricultural work, taught, and helped build a water tank, among other tasks.

It was an unforgettable experience for the Mounts, who since 1975 have been the proprietors of Terhune Orchards on Cold Soil Road. On June 4, they will revisit those roots with fellow Peace Corps alumni and help create connections with new volunteers. The RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers) Family Picnic is being held at Terhune from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Food, children’s activities, an “Around the World” display from different countries of service, storytelling, and remarks by Peace Corps President Glenn Blumhorst are among the highlights planned for the day.

“After we came back from Micronesia, we just kept walking. We went everywhere,” Ms. Mount recalled last week. “We visited with lots of Peace Corps volunteers along the way. And we have kept in touch over the years. We haven’t hosted one of these gatherings for years, so we’re looking forward to it.”

The idea of getting Peace Corps alumni together is as much about sharing anecdotes from the past as it is about supporting those currently in the field. “At the picnic, we’ll have a little send-off for people who are leaving for their first tour,” Ms. Mount said. “And the storytelling will be about the kinds of things people are supporting around the world. The Peace Corps, to its credit, has gotten more organized with volunteers. It turns out that a lot of people who are returned volunteers are interested and committed to supporting the new ones who may be going to the country they [the returned volunteers] served in, or doing something they are interested in.”

The Mounts received their Peace Corps training in Micronesia, which Ms. Mount describes as “the size of the United States except its almost all blue.” The couple were first assigned to Yap, the largest of the islands. About nine months later, they were sent to remote, outer islands where they worked and learned a bit of the language. “We had a perfect experience,” Ms. Mount said. “The people were happy to have us there. They were very interesting. It was exciting.”

Returning home after their Peace Corps service and more travels, the Mounts settled in the local area. “We lived in the suburbs for awhile, but that wasn’t for us. One day we saw a sign at the end of the driveway [of what is now Terhune Orchards] that it was for sale by owner. So that was that. We’ve been here ever since,” Ms. Mount said.

Those attending the picnic, which will be held rain or shine, are asked to bring food and a beverage to share. Ethnic dishes are welcome. Prospective volunteers will receive a send-off and recently returned volunteers will be welcome. For more information, contact Doug Garantina at rpcvnj.social@gmail.com.

“Ours is a typical Peace Corps story. It was really life-changing for us, and I know other volunteers feel the same. This whole movement of return volunteers is not just about keeping in touch,” Ms. Mount said. “It’s also about supporting the Peace Corps volunteers in the field right now. That’s one of the main reasons to get everyone together. And it’s great to have that get-together right here.”