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.
- 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.
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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, Ashley Eaton, and Tess O’Brien
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 assist in ongoing outreach and research initiatives. Our faculty and staff educate target audiences about issues related to water quality and quantity that can impact individuals, homes, businesses, and municipalities. We have particular interest in reaching various cultural communities and those with fewer resources in the basin. In summer 2024, we will provide education aboard the UVM research vessel and in various locations around the Lake Champlain basin to help people understand how to monitor water quality, how to fish, and to understand how our uses of the land impact water quality. We will also host meetings and focus groups with a select suite of Burlington/South Burlington businesses to learn about their use of road salt and decision-making processes during snow and ice management. We will also develop and deliver education about how people and dogs can stay safe from cyanobacteria (harmful algae) blooms. AX fellows are anticipated to assist with in-person education programs, to develop outreach materials for various target audiences to help build watershed science knowledge and promote environmental stewardship, and to help facilitate meetings and focus groups.Read more about Dr. Stepenuck's research 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, Niloofar Layegh Nikravesh, Kevin Haggerty
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.