Tucson Community Loses Champion of Environmental Education and Social Justice

Sept. 22, 2023
Josh Ruddick sitting by fire

Image Courtesy of the Ruddick family

Joshua R. Ruddick
November 25, 1967 – August 27, 2023

Joshua R. Ruddick of Tucson, AZ, passed away unexpectedly of natural causes on August 27, 2023. A passionate social justice advocate, environmentalist, and student of the world, Josh spent nearly 15 years as a high school science instructor before joining the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Arizona Project WET as Tucson Program coordinator in 2021. Josh actively participated in many of APW’s professional development workshops and served as a mentor teacher in the Recharge the Rain program. Josh was a co-founder, instructor, and former President of the Pima County Chapter of the Arizona Master Naturalist Association. Teaching was Josh’s second career after he spent 17 years in executive management positions in the healthcare industry. For the last two years, he served on the board of education for Tucson Country Day School. His passion for education and project-based learning helped the school transition to its current model. 

In addition to Tucson, Josh spent important years in Sacramento, CA, and Denver, CO. His hobbies and interests included the International Hash House Harriers, abalone fishing, skydiving, jazz, travel, and more. He was happiest outside, enjoying nature in all its glory.

Josh earned a bachelor of arts in philosophy from George Mason University and a master’s in education and conservation biology from the University of Arizona. He was dedicated to preserving native plants, animals, and wild places, and reversing the impacts of climate change. He also worked to ensure that marginalized populations had access to the outdoors and the opportunities available for its preservation.

The Arizona Master Naturalists Association has established a fund to support his children’s future and to plant trees in his name, https://givebutter.com/bJkV1O. The family also suggests donations be made to any organizations supporting Indigenous or marginalized people, as well as native plants, animals, landscapes, and water conservation. For example, Josh was actively involved with the University of Arizona Citizen Science Jaguar and Ocelot Monitoring Project, https://www.wildcatresearch.arizona.edu/

Josh leaves behind his wife Emily (Floor), daughter Isadora (14), and son Cassius (11). He is also survived by his mother, Mary Frances Ruddick of Tucson, brother Samuel of Auburn, AL, many relatives, friends, coworkers, and former students. Josh was preceded in death by his father, Richard.

On On, Blue Skies, Josh. The world is a less colorful place without you.