MPS '22, Global Development
- Hometown: Lemoore, California, USA
- Colleges attended and degree earned: California State University - Fresno: B.S. in Agricultural Business
What are the big challenges you want to tackle in the world?
My mission is to improve agricultural productivity in rural communities through climate-resilient practices and sustainable food systems. As our world population continues to grow and our natural resources continue to decline through climate change and anthropogenic factors, becoming more efficient with land, water, and natural resources is of paramount importance. Furthermore, I want to increase access and agency for women and smallholder farmers and blend traditional practices with new technologies, education, extension, and policy.
What were you doing before the MPS program?
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was living and working in the Jimma Zone of Oromia, Ethiopia. There, I served as an Agriculture and Nutrition Development Specialist with the Peace Corps. In this role, I collaborated with various stakeholders, and using a community-based development approach, established co-op style community gardens emphasizing permaculture and agroforestry. I delivered agricultural trainings alongside international NGOs and local extension agents to improve smallholders' capacity to implement new strategies and reduce nutritional deficiencies and environmental degradation. I also served both as a Resource Volunteer for incoming trainees and on the Agricultural Project Advisory Council to develop new objectives for the program framework.
What does global development mean to you?
Global development, in my opinion, is the integration of theory, policy, and practice that works to reduces poverty and inequality through social, cultural, environmental, and economic benefits.
What has been the most memorable or impactful experience of your career so far?
Developing the friendship that I have with my Peace Corps counterpart, Abdulaziz, has been, without a doubt, the most impactful experience of my career. Our relationship transcends the work we did together, as he taught me so much about his community, culture, and religion. We share a common passion for community-based development and encouraged each other to pursue greater possibilities.
How do you envision your MPS degree contributing to your career?
I want to advance extension and education for smallholder farmers to reduce the impacts of industrial agriculture through sustainable, equitable, and inclusive food systems. With this degree I plan to improve my critical thinking and analytical skills to better promote global food equity and resource management.
Do you have any aspirations for what you’d like to focus on in your MPS problem-solving project?
Throughout my career I have seen the negative impacts of the global food system and industrial agriculture, so I want to focus my capstone on sustainable food systems that will transition smallholders away from mono-cropping and chemically intensive practices. To do this, I plan on designing integrated cropping systems that will promote soil health, biodiversity, sustainability, nutritional advancements, and economic opportunities.
Tell us a fun fact about you.
I love cooking and experimenting with new recipes and foods. In Ethiopia, I discovered kitfo (raw beef) and enjoyed it many times!
Connect with Garrett:
- Garrett's LinkedIn
- gjq2 [at] cornell.edu