Meet Our Alumni: Chris Chappell

Chris ChappellChris Chappell graduated from the School of Sustainability in 2012 with a Bachelor's of Science, focusing on Sustainable Ecosystems. Chappell is currently the Social Media Coordinator for the Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company in Gilbert, Arizona, where he acts as both a communications hub and resident photographer for the brewery. Chappell educates the public, as well as his fellow brewery staff, about the story of every beer: from its locally-sourced ingredients, to its deliciously brewed end. Where are you working now? Arizona Wilderness is a very fast-paced brewery in the sense that we have five daily food specials, weekly beer tappings and weekly bottle/can releases. Most of these beers and food specials utilize local ingredients, either sourced from a local farmer or even ethically foraged by our brewers, or have some sort of interesting story behind them. It is my job to gather all of the information on these and convey it to the public, via social media, and to our amazing staff. I also act as the resident brewery photographer, taking photos of everything from Steadfast Farm dropping off blood oranges to our owners foraging sycamore leaves and bark – with permission from the landowner of course – for a special brewery project. And occasionally  I will work on various marketing and sustainability projects, often with partnering organizations like the Audubon Society or The Nature Conservancy. What does sustainability mean to you, and why is it important? Sustainability to me is a way of protecting the lands and waters that keep our planet healthy. We live on a finite planet so we need to use our resources carefully. I think it’s as simple as that. What kinds of sustainability projects are you working on? Recently I joined the marketing committee for a new B Corporation Malting Facility called Sinagua Malt in the Verde Valley. This malting company was formed to meet a new market demand for malted barley production in Arizona. Over the last year, The Nature Conservancy and Friends of the Verde River Greenway have been working on finding low-water-use crops to grow in the Verde Valley. Malted barley is one of the four essential ingredients to making beer, and having sustainable, Arizona-grown and malted barley is a game-changer. I am really excited to be working on this project as it combines two of my favorite things: conservation and beer. What implications are there for sustainability and supply chain management at the brewery? I think that the best things that a brewery can do are to try to source as many local ingredients as possible and to close loops in the brewing process. For one, we are excited for when we can source as much locally grown and malted barley as possible. We also work with probably over a dozen local farms and local food purveyors to source ingredients for our food and beer. Not only does sourcing locally help boost the AZ economy, it also reduces the carbon impact of our brewery. How does a sustainability degree help you to navigate an uncertain future? I think that a sustainability degree has given me the tools to look at complex problems and consider all of the stakeholders. The Verde River is a great example of this as the river is used by farmers, kayakers, and even the city of Phoenix (for drinking water). All of these factors must be considered in order to do conservation work in this area.