The Agroecology Extension (AX) Summer Research Fellowship is a fully paid, 10-week research and outreach experience open to undergraduates from across the US - UVM provides the project, mentorship, and research sites - you bring your enthusiasm and willingness to get engaged under the Vermont summer sun!


Program Details

The AX Fellowship is collaboration between UVM Extension and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and coordinated by the Institute for Agroecology located on UVM’s main campus in Burlington, VT. Fellows will be matched with mentors engaged in various applied research and outreach projects including in pest management, vegetable/berry farming, fruit tree farming, ecological landscape design, environmental science, and sustainable cropping systems. Check out the following video that highlights an example from a past AX Fellowship project:

Program Goals

  • Provide students with transdisciplinary experiential learning focused on developing adaptable research, leadership, and outreach skills
  • Help prepare students for careers and graduate education in agroecology and extension
  • Match students with UVM faculty and staff working within Vermont's multifaceted landscape
  • Support and contribute to new and ongoing Extension outreach projects dedicated to UVM's Land Grant mission

While we are a largely white-led program in a predominantly white state, we work diligently to address topics of power and privilege in agroecology and extension. To do this, we collaborate with a broad and diverse network of researchers, farmers, organizational leaders, and academics. We invite them into the program to address complex contemporary issues through the lens of agroecology. In partnering with UVM Center for Cultural Pluralism, UVM Identity Centers and the Living Well Program, we further facilitate students’ connections with campus resources focused on wellbeing and belonging.

The AX Summer Research Fellowship is uniquely tailored for students looking to deepen their knowledge of sustainable agricultural approaches, developing transdisciplinary research and outreach skills, and engaging with extension in Vermont.

Check out AX featured on UVM Extension's TV program, 'Across the Fence'! Click here

Tiered Mentorship

The AX fellows will build on the sustainable leadership skills developed as a part of the Agroecology Enrichment and Leadership Program through their integration into the week-long AgroTek Summer Academy. Fellows will apply their learning through the mentoring by faculty, post-docs, and graduate students, as well as by being mentors to the middle/high school student participants in AgroTek. Check out more about AgroTek on UVM Extension's TV program, 'Across the Fence' Click here for that video!

Aspects of a sustainable leadership model that AX Fellows will apply in AgroTek include the following:

  • The intentional overlap of AX Fellowship and AgroTek Summer Academy enables both programs to support and affect each other.
  • In facilitating conversations during the academy week, AX Fellows will provide the AgroTek team with much-needed support.
  • Mentors will build relationships by discussing share interests, challenges, educational trajectory, etc. with their mentees.
  • AX Fellows will provide their teams with supportive ideas and foster a sense of direction as teams complete their work.

Fellowship Project Mentors

Victor Izzo and Maryam Nouri Aiin

The Vermont Entomology Participatory Action Research Team (VEPART) is a transdisciplinary research team dedicated to using Participatory Action Research (PAR) methods to synthesize and integrate grower input at all phases of the research process. VEPART works with a multitude of growers in various crop systems to develop appropriate IPM tactics for northeastern organic growers, and ultimately a more sustainable approach to pest management. They conduct agroecological PAR and outreach in support of agricultural and food systems initiatives in the urban or peri-urban fringe of Burlington, as well as throughout Vermont. VEPART also teams up with the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Grower’s Association to run a pest monitoring program at UVM’s Horticultural Research and Education Center to provide local vegetable and berry growers weekly, Vermont-specific, information on the population dynamics of important pests throughout the growing season. Read more about VEPART here


Kris Stepenuck

Kris Stepenuck

The Lake Champlain Sea Grant Institute develops and delivers science-based information to benefit the environment and economies of the Lake Champlain basin. The fellows working with Lake Champlain Sea Grant will be paired with a local organization or community that engages in community planning related to natural resources. The position may include, but is not limited to assisting with sustainability planning, community outreach, natural resources policy development, and monitoring natural resources as related to planned projects. Read more about Dr. Stepenuck's research here

Stephanie Hurley, Katie Horner, Leslie Spencer, and Amir Johnson

The Ecological Landscape Design Laboratory studies soil health and water quality at urban farms and gardens, from a biophysical perspective as well as from a human perspective. Our research lab is studying the intersection of two fields: urban agroecology (UAE) and green stormwater infrastructure (GSI). Leslie Spencer is a first year Ph.D. student in the UVM Food Systems program; she is interested in the intersections between ecosystem services, ecological landscape design, and human well-being in agroecological systems. Amir Johnson is a first year M.S. student in the UVM Department of Plant and Soil Science. His research is focused on green stormwater infrastructure, water quality, and sociodemographic equity. We are seeking applicants for a unique opportunity to help investigate whether UAE has the potential to be envisioned as a green infrastructure to improve water management in cities. Urban farms and gardens that use eco-friendly and socially beneficial practices also have the potential to serve as places for sustainable surface water management, by providing stormwater infiltration and mitigating climate change. We will evaluate water quality from various urban, food-producing gardens and farms, measure soil health including accumulation of phosphorus from compost applications, survey farmers and gardeners to learn about their perceptions about healthy soils and how to achieve them, and share outcomes with local farmers and gardeners. Read more about the Ecological Landscape Design Laboratory here!

Terence Bradshaw and Bethany Pelletier

The UVM Fruit Program works with apple and grape growers in Vermont to improve production through improved crop, pest, and business management. Our work takes place both at the UVM Horticulture Research and Education Center (HREC) and on commercial farms. In 2023, we will work with grape growers who are implementing alternative practices influenced by organic and biodynamic systems to evaluate their effectiveness and to improve disease management. We will also be monitoring pests in regional apple orchards and generation reports for growers to use in their integrated pest management programs. Fellows will assist with vineyard and orchard management at the HREC; conduct disease assessments in local vineyards; and monitor pests in regional orchards. Fellows can expect substantial interaction with Farmer Training Program and other summer students, Fruit Program graduate students, and local producers. Read more about the UVM Fruit Program here

Eric Bishop von Wettberg and Niloofar Layegh Nikravesh

The crop genetic heritage laboratory group aims to preserve crop genetic diversity, introduce new crops to Vermont, and improve the sustainability of crop rotations and cropping systems. The fellows working with the crop genetic heritage laboratory will study the performance of kernza, a perennial cereal grain crop developed by our partners at the Land Institute, growing alone or as an intercrop with alfalfa. This perennial cropping system has great potential to sequester carbon into agricultural soils and to provide stable and sustainable grain yields without annual soil tillage. Fellows will work with partners performing parallel trials in Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas, through the New Roots for Restoration NSF-supported Biology Integration Institute, and participate in weekly virtual professional development activities. Field-based activities that fellows will lead include assessments of soil biological diversity, soil physical structure, and weed diversity. Read more about the crop genetic heritage laboratory here

Program logistics 

Program starts May 30, 2023 and runs for 10 weeks, M-F, 9am-5pm.

On-campus housing or housing allowance is provided.

Projects depend on the locations of mentor’s research. Personal transportation is not required.

AX Fellows should be prepared for fieldwork on commercial and research farms.


Applications will be accepted through the InfoReady portal starting January 4, 2023. The application deadline is March 4, 2023.

Questions about AX or the application? Contact Scott Lewins (

Apply here by March 4, 2023!

Additional FOUR internal undergraduate research funding