Jackson Hart

MPS '22, Global Development
  • Hometown: Tomales, California, USA
  • Colleges attended and degree earned: University of California: Santa Cruz: B.A. Community Studies with a concentration in inequalities in public health
What are the big challenges you want to tackle in the world?
  • Aid in the global effort to improve the environmental sustainability of agriculture and reduce agricultural pollutants
  • Improve food sovereignty and economic independence in smallholder farming communities; particularly in sovereign island nations
  • Assist in the research efforts to optimize controlled environment agriculture, aquaponic systems, and vertical farms
What were you doing before the MPS program?

Before attending Cornell, I have spent the last decade working largely for agricultural and public health nonprofits as a project designer, program manager, grant writer, and educator. I am professional jack of all trades and becoming a master of a few. Here is what I've been up to in the most recent years:

  • Served as an Agricultural Volunteer with the Peace Corps in western Nepal where I helped an agricultural college launch and manage a 6-acre organic vegetable farm and training center for youth.
  • Served as a VISTA Leader for the Aloha United Way AmeriCorps VISTA program where I helped manage a program dedicated to digitizing and enhancing the M&E process of 14 NGOs in Honolulu, HI.
  • Was a Grant Writing Consultant for One Heart Worldwide where I raised $2.1 million to improve maternal and neonatal health outcomes in the most rural and mountainous villages of Nepal.
What does global development mean to you?

Global Development is Community Development happening all over the (you guessed it…) globe. In my mind, Community Development is the process of assisting communities, foreign or domestic, in reaching their desired goals whether they be health, environmental, political, economic, or culturally focused goals. In broad strokes, my version of the Community Development sector is focused on aiding in the global effort to:

  • Reduce any unnecessary suffering of human beings, regardless or race, gender, religion, or otherwise; and
  • Protect the natural evolved ecosystems that supports the continued existence of the human race.
What has been the most memorable or impactful experience of your career so far?

The most memorable and impactful experience I had in my career was in the beginning of my career. At the age of 19, I blindly did a 6-month full-time internship as a project designer and grant writer for a community development nonprofit in the Commonwealth of Dominica in the Caribbean. It was the first time my strengths in networking and creative problem solving were being put to good use and I found myself capable of doing a lot more than I thought I would in that short timeframe. Furthermore, the people of Dominica have proven to be one of the most communal, loving, and supportive societies that I have ever lived in. Working in community development has been an extension of my attempts to always “do right by my neighbor” and it was my community in Dominica that best showed me what that saying really means.

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

While at Cornell, I would like to use my capstone research as an opportunity to assist in the efforts to optimize and expand pre-existing aquaponics and greenhouse agriculture initiatives in the West Indies of the Caribbean.

Tell us a fun fact about you.

When I served in the Peace Corps in Nepal, I lived in a low elevation area that was far far away from the Himalayas. I was always kind of bitter about the fact that I didn’t get to live deep in the Himalayan valleys, so last year I decided to spend 100 days straight, between Fall and Winter, living alone in a very remote and rustic gold miner’s cabin at 9,000 feet in elevation in the heart of the Rockies. It was glorious. 

I also identify as a storyteller and storytelling is my favorite form of art.

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