Aziza Moore has joined us as an Organization and Governance Intern. She is currently studying at Cornell University for a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Environmental Policy and a focus on Agricultural Policy. During her internship, she will assist in research to inform and advance the governance model of the 1000 Landscapes for 1 Billion People Initiative, and is supporting our study with GALLOP, Columbia University and Cornell University on “Institutionalizing Support for Landscape Partnerships.”. She will also support 1000 Landscapes Hub activities and contribute to other research related to Integrated Landscape Management (ILM).
Time to learn more about Aziza:
EcoAg: Could you tell us a bit about yourself and how your background led you to work with EcoAgriculture Partners?
Aziza: I grew up in Atlanta, in the state of Georgia, United States of America. I went to the College of Wooster in Ohio for my undergraduate degree, where I studied Religious Studies with minors in South Asian religions and Environmental Studies. While I was not educated in a religious household, I knew that most of the world’s perspectives are based upon individuals’ relationships to specific religions. I always knew I would one day work within public service, so I figured I could learn more about a topic of interest while understanding human worldviews’ complexities. A key turning point for me was during my third year when I studied abroad in India. I studied Buddhist practices and philosophy and mainly spent my spring semester in Jaipur traveling around Rajasthan to study several local NGOs’ strategies on sustainable development and social change. As I looked upon this culturally rich country, I realized that one element that unifies all of humanity is our need for nutrient-filled foods dependent upon nutrient-packed soils. Upon my return to the United States, this led me to join a group of Wooster students connecting food banks with local vegetable farmers to create Harvest Share, a social enterprise that has merged with A Whole Community.
After graduation, I spent a year apprenticing on small sustainable farms in Massachusetts and Georgia. Following this, in July of 2018, I made the leap of becoming a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama as a Sustainable Agricultural Systems Agent in the indigenous province of the Comarca Ngabe Bugle. I took a collaborative leadership approach, holding a meeting for community members to voice and vote on which main concerns would be addressed during my 2-year service. With my facilitation, three community collectives were formed with focus points on composting, fish tanks, and chickens for meat to increase soil fertility, local protein sources, and income streams into the community. We made organic compost, a 700m2 fish tank by hand to farm up to 2,000 tilapia, and we started a fund for the start-up costs of the chicken group. To encourage these collectives’ long-term success, I organized training events with Panamanian government agencies to build connections between community leaders and local agricultural agents. Unfortunately, my time in Panama was cut short in March of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led the Peace Corps to evacuate all volunteers back to the United States.
During my final months in the Comarca Ngabe Bugle, I became interested in heightening the political awareness of farmers’ and ecologists’ perspectives at the national level as a strategy to build more nutrient-rich soils, sustainably productive lands and more stable agriculture and food systems. My newfound understanding of how I want to implement myself into the world of agriculture led me to return to academia, where I am now studying at Cornell University for a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Environmental Policy and a focus on Agricultural Policy.
I was introduced to EcoAgriculture Partners and their 1000 Landscapes for 1 Billion People Initiative through the Cornell network. I never believed an organization took such radical yet necessary steps toward making complex international connections for a more resilient agricultural system through ILM.
EcoAg: What will be your role with EcoAgriculture Partners?
Aziza: I am an Organization and Governance Intern, and my primary role is to assist research that informs and advances the governance model of the 1000 Landscapes for 1 Billion People Initiative, and a study of different models of institutional support for landscape partnerships. I am excited to assist and learn from dedicated individuals who are motivated by similar interests and causes. Besides, I look forward to further understanding the processes that push such initiatives to reform outdated systems and structures that abandoned farmers’ voices and perspectives upon the soil with which they began.