Tanner Roark, a native of Oklahoma, completed his undergraduate degree in Cultural Anthropology at Oklahoma Baptist University and his Masters of International Agriculture at Oklahoma State University. His masters research focused on the influence of agroecology in small scale farming communities in East Africa. Tanner conducted his field work in Central and Northern Uganda as a Noble Foundation Research Fellow. As a Matthew 25:40 Scholar to Ethiopia, he managed the first hydroponic vegetable production project in the Tigray Region. In this project, he worked in collaboration with faculty from Mekelle University to develop locally available growing mediums and organic nutrient solutions for hydroponic vegetable production. Prior to becoming a Leland Fellow, Tanner was Development Coordinator and Program Associate at A Growing Culture, a small agricultural NGO focused on building a culture of farmer autonomy and agroecological innovation. Tanner has also spent six seasons working in the fields of vegetable farms across the Midwest.
Tanner worked with Project Concern International (PCI) on the Njira Project, an integrated food security project in Balaka and Machinga Districts in Southern Malawi. As a Knowledge Management & Learning Advisor, Tanner worked to improve the quality and applicability of periodic monitoring reports to inform PCI’s program decision making with field-based evidence. In this pursuit, he contributed to the improvement of technical capacity among field staff, developing case studies, and enhancing knowledge management systems to better determine synergies between Njira’s three purpose areas: agriculture, nutrition, and disaster risk management. Tanner was also on the Research Technical Working Group and led in-country efforts to conduct a study on the resilience impacts of Njira’s integrated programs. Finally, he used a systems thinking approach to develop a platform for joint learning and exchange.
At Project Concern International (PCI), Tanner worked on policy issues related to Resilience and Agriculture. Among his duties, he worked to create a road map for PCI’s policy engagement pathways through internal and external surveys. He also worked with the Food, Nutrition & Livelihood Security team to develop PCI’s Systems Approach to Resilience. Additionally, he built off his field year in Malawi by carrying out an analysis on Malawi’s Local Governance System. In this analysis, he led focus group discussions and developed suggestions for strengthening critical gaps.