Craig Zarnosky

MDP Student

In joining the MDP program, Craig aims to cultivate skills and knowledge in the areas of food security and climate resilience, and more broadly to gain experience in sustainable land use planning and resource management. He plans to focus his work towards marginalized populations and those who stand to be most impacted by our rapidly changing climate. Local food systems have such an important role to play in creating a more sustainable and just future, and can have positive impacts across many facets of life.

Craig chose to attend UA for the MDP program for a variety of reasons. The many centers and institutes at the University provide an amazing source of expertise and knowledge to draw upon. The city of Tucson has an incredible local food scene with a wide array of urban farming initiatives and a strong movement to build up local food systems. Additionally, there is the fact that the US Southwest is seeing some of the most rapid climate change impacts of anywhere in the country. Being in an area where people are already having to work to protect their future livelihoods presents the opportunity to put theory into practice and learn in real time. The transdisciplinary approach of the MDP program also was a major draw, in that he will be able to better tailor the coursework to fit desired outcomes by merging coursework in the social science and natural resource realms.

Craig's undergraduate studies were in International Relations and Global Studies at Lehigh University. Building upon this education, he had formative experiences through hands-on international development work. First, he spent the summer of 2012 in Nepal working with a group called The Mountain Institute, and came to appreciate the importance of community driven projects. This experience was the catalyst for joining the Peace Corps in Zambia, where he worked for two years as an agroforestry extension agent in the Northwest province. Most recently, he has spent the last four and a half years working for the Foreign Agricultural Service of the USDA assisting with technical capacity building and development projects. Outside of work he has spent much of the last decade working in backyard and community gardens cultivating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

Ultimately Craig aims to work with communities to try and create resilient local food systems that are healthy and diverse enough to withstand a changing climate while providing food and work for the community. He also hopes to help communities to become as self-sufficient as possible through exceptional natural resource management and stewardship utilizing community based forestry practices, eco-tourism, and other more integrative approaches.