It’s been an interesting 12+ years since my first semester abroad in Namibia. While I learned that field biology wasn’t my calling during my time with Round River (thank you for your part, Acacia mellifera), I also learned that I wanted to stay in the broad environmental field and that I should continue trying to do interesting things. In the ten years since graduating from Carleton College, I worked in ecological restoration, carpentry, environmental NGOs, commercial fishing, more field research (including with Round River, in Canada), even a stint as a commercial building inspector. I lived four states, on a boat house, in my car, and a short spell in a tipi. Along the way I got married (to Ramona Arechiga), earned an MA in environmental science from Prescott College, and spent two years with Ramona in an illegal village in the middle of Bale Mountains National Park in Ethiopia, where we served in the Peace Corps and where we collected the field data for Ramona’s master’s degree in forestry (see photo).
Ramona and I returned to Oregon from Ethiopia at the start of 2013, but didn’t stay long. In August, I dragged her, a fuzzy dog, and two giant cats down to the Bay Area so I could start my Ph.D. at UC – Berkeley in the Environmental Science, Policy, and Management Department. I am now in my second year working with Prof. Lynn Huntsinger, trying to better understand the environmental and social implications of economic development of pastoral systems, especially sedentarization of nomadic herders. My research will be in northwest China, working with Kazakh herders not far from the Kazakhstan border. My first field season starts in June, but there will be many to come.
Following my Ph.D. I hope to 1) leave California, and 2) begin my two-stage career plan. The first stage is a job in the economic development sector trying to find development strategies for pastoralists that are both more environmentally sustainable and socially just than have been the standard to date. The second stage is teaching what I’ve learned at a small college or university, probably in some small town in the Northeast or Northwest.