Jarsm Russell

MPS '22, Global Development
  • Hometown: Monrovia, Liberia
  • Colleges attended and degree earned: University of Botswana: Bachelor of Science in Crop Science - Horticulture
What are the big challenges you want to tackle in the world?

My focus is on food security, including crop yield, food waste management, income generation and nutrition in small scale agriculture systems.

What were you doing before the MPS program?

I worked in Liberia for Fauna & Flora International (FFI), a UK-based biodiversity conservation NGO, as Governance and Livelihood Assistant for the South East Landscape. I joined FFI in August of 2018 as a Research Assistant through a paid internship, and for the three years, I supported community engagement activities, focusing on awareness-raising, governance, livelihood, and capacity building.

Based at the Sapo Conservation Centre in Sapo National Park, Liberia's largest and oldest protected area, my work promoted sustainable collaborative resource management. This was aimed at protecting biodiversity while supporting the rights and livelihood of local communities living in this biodiversity-rich landscape. In addition, through extensive interaction with members of the communities, becoming friends with many of the local women with whom I worked, I developed a keen interest in understanding ways to improve the livelihood of farmers in rural communities.

What does global development mean to you?

Actions taken to reduce poverty — by helping people achieve their potential in a dignified manner through a collaborative efforts at both the local and international levels.

What has been the most memorable or impactful experience of your career so far?

Working with and learning from local farmers in rural Liberia to investigate the potential of conservation agriculture through an experimental farm. I gained invaluable insight into their agriculture systems that helped me make a more informed approach to research sustainable practices. It was an exchange of knowledge rooted in the lived experience of farmers aimed at maximizing limited resources.

How do you envision your MPS degree contributing to your career?

Attaining an MPS degree provides me with a platform to gain deeper insight into agriculture and rural development issues while exposing me to new ideas and a network of practitioners that I can harness to drive change. By taking a step back from what I have been doing to think about how I can improve and do better in helping solve the problems I am passionate about, I will be better equipped to tackle these issues.

Do you have any aspirations for what you’d like to focus on in your MPS problem-solving project?

I want to investigate the potential of a circular economy based food system in Liberia.

Tell us a fun fact about you.

I am a plant mom, I crochet and enjoy doing DIY projects.

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