New Conservation Fellowship Strengthens Partnership with Audubon Vermont

By Audubon Vermont
May 12, 2021

Audubon Vermont and the Lake Champlain Sea Grant Institute are excited to introduce Cassie Wolfanger as our Conservation Research Fellow. This new, two-year fellowship will focus on connecting Audubon’s work to protect bird habitat, on the one hand, with the Sea Grant Institute’s work to promote sustainable farm and forest practices, on the other. By advancing both goals, Cassie will help us achieve our shared goal of improving watershed health and resilience across the Lake Champlain watershed while also helping farmers and forest landowners. She will engage in applied research to develop and implement best practices for bird-friendly habitat on agricultural lands, especially in riparian areas and along shorelines.

As noted by Audubon Vermont Executive Director, David Mears, “Combining the forces of Audubon Vermont and the Lake Champlain Sea Grant Institute is like combining chocolate and peanut butter – we are better together!” He continues, “I could not be more pleased that Cassie has decided to lend her considerable talents to advancing this important partnership.”

“We welcome Cassie to Lake Champlain Sea Grant,” said Director Breck Bowden. “She will further our shared goals to protect our rivers and the lake by working with farmers and landowners and using science to implement practical solutions that protect our lake and our communities.”

This fellowship is designed to train the next generation of conservation leaders through research and on-the-ground conservation with a focus on habitat restoration in the Champlain Valley of Vermont. Funding for this fellowship was made possible through the partnership between Audubon Vermont and the Lake Champlain Sea Grant Institute, with the support of generous donors.

Originally from western New York, Cassie Wolfanger spent her childhood exploring the great outdoors and refusing to come inside. She holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees in environmental science and ecology from the State University of New York (SUNY) Brockport, where her research focused on land use and restoration influences on coastal wetland biogeochemistry.

Previously, Cassie worked for the Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit on juvenile lake sturgeon and then for the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. She’s most passionate about the protection of rare, threatened, and endangered species and keeping natural places wild for their survival. With a firm belief that a connection to nature must be accessible to all, she values engaging historically underserved communities in the conversation around environmental action and policy.

”I’m interested in finding the best ways we can be stewards of the land, even in human-dominated landscapes, in order to coexist with wildlife, so this fellowship opportunity is very exciting!” Currently, Cassie lives in Richmond where her free time is spent hiking with her dog, kayaking, playing women’s rugby, or Nordic skiing.