Jake Meyers received his MDP in May, 2020, where he focused his studies on international climate resiliency, program evaluation, applied social science, and digital storytelling.
As a Peace Corps Coverdell Fellow at UArizona, Jake worked at the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage & Hour Division (WHD) and the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona (CFSA). At the WHD, Jake worked with a team of federal investigators on a court case that resulted in $1 million in back wages and liquidated damages to underpaid construction workers in Southern Arizona. While a fellow with CFSA, Jake designed an evaluation framework for a $1 million grantmaking program for local nonprofits and conducted a research project to empirically measure the nonprofit community's willingness to collaborate.
For his practicum, Jake spent his summer in Kenya as a Graduate Research Fellow with the International Livestock Research Institute as a member of their Programme for Climate-Smart Livestock Systems project. While in Kenya, Jake also managed a team of enumerators and conducted key informant interviews for a 1,000-household survey assessing peri-urban food security issues and their linkages to climate change in the Mt. Kenya region.
While an MDP student, Jake also traveled to Washington D.C. as a Correspondent for Planet Forward where he learned how digital storytelling can be incorporated into development practice while networking with officials from the World Food Program, UN FAO, and famed environmental journalists. He later went on to produce a video on urban farming in Kenya during his practicum and won Planet Forwad's national storytelling competition. Jake will get to travel to Iceland onboard the National Geographic Explorer Vessel on a storytelling expedition with former CNN anchor Frank Sesno in 2021.
In addition to his Peace Corps Coverdell Fellowship, Jake worked part-time at the University of Arizona in initiatives focused on climate resiliency and global disaster relief. As a Special Advisor to the Interim Director of the Arizona Institutes for Resilience (AIR), Jake helped build collaborative relationships across multiple schools and research centers at the University of Arizona to increase AIR's institutional capacity to build a “Roadmap to Resilience,” drawing on the expertise of many colleges and departments to promote partnerships and interdisciplinary activities. Jake was also one of several MDP students working with the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology's program in global disaster relief, where he was tasked with ensuring the coordination and sound administration of a $4.9 million USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) grant for the University of Arizona to provide Humanitarian Assistance and Technical Support to OFDA.
Before beginning his MDP degree, Jake was a Fulbright U.S. Student Researcher in Cambodia where he conducted research on climate change adaptation strategies in a flooded forest protected by UNESCO and the Wildlife Conservation Society. Jake also served in the Peace Corps as an Environmental Action Advisor for Food Security in Benin, where he implemented a variety of projects focused on climate resiliency, food transformation, and cross-cutting programmatic areas including: a USAID Feed the Future funded project that introduced rabbit raising at the community level, a Let Girls Learn Campaign that featured a march for gender equality with 500 female students, and a malaria prevention program in pre-schools that successfully prevented and treated cases of malaria in 300 children under the age of 5 in collaboration with USAID and the CDC.
Jake graduated from Washington & Jefferson College with a B.A. in Environmental Studies, where he conducted environmental research projects through a combination of semesters abroad, fellowships, and independently designed research projects in the Galapagos Islands (ecotourism and development), South Africa (great white shark conservation; semester abroad), China & Japan (sustainable practices in the auto industry), and across several Southeast Asian nations (researched how Buddhism, Catholicism, and Islam shape environmental perspectives; studied abroad in Cambodia & Vietnam).
After graduating with his MDP degree, Jake accepted a job offer to work as an Emergency Management Specialist in FEMA's Continuous Improvement Program to evaluate the federal response to natural disasters and the COVID-19 crisis. You can learn more about Jake's current activities on his LinkedIn page.