Amanda Kellner '15 awarded Lacey Fellowship to study sustainable agriculture in Brazil

By: Buff Lindau

amanda kellner '15"Brazil and the Amazon are at a critical stage of development upon which the whole world's climate fate may rest," wrote Amanda Kellner, a Saint Michael's College junior, in her application for a research/travel fellowship.  

Kellner, a Dean's List Environmental Studies and Anthropology double major, is the 2014 recipient of a $2,500 Brian Lacey '72 International Fellowship in Social Justice that will enable her to study for the Spring 2014 semester in Brazil.  

Her Lacey Fellowship will enable her to pursue an in depth study of environmental issues in Brazil through a scientific lens. She will study Amazon Resource Management and Human Ecology in a program in Belem, Brazil, run by SIT (School for International Training) Study Abroad. And she will take a course in Resource Management and Socio-environmental Conflicts in the Amazon, and a course in Natural and Human Ecology.

The Brian Lacey International Fellowship in Social Justice is designed to encourage and honor Saint Michael's students who have demonstrated superior academic achievement as well as dedication to deeper understanding of issues of social justice. The merit- and need-based fellowship requires that students engage in study-abroad programs that address economic, political and social justice issues and/or service learning. 

Prepared in many ways and learning Portuguese

Kellner grew up on a small Vermont farm a logger's daughter, fully aware of the challenges in cutting a forest to both preserve and use resources. She is aware, she wrote in her application, "of the struggles some farmers face when trying to protect the environment but also make a living."

She has been studying Portuguese, the language of Brazil, to be equipped to interview indigenous people during her stay in their country. And she chose an international residence at Saint Michael's in order to live with girls from Venezuela, China, Japan, and Canada, to enhance her understanding of people of different cultures. 

Kellner also did an academic study of indigenous land rights in Brazil, and a summer research project on sustainable agriculture in Vermont.

Research plans

She plans to focus her research in Brazil on "methods of agriculture, their ecological and social impacts, and the most immediate threats to the survival of these forms of agriculture."

Kellner wrote in her application for the grant, "There is no better place on earth to learn about the potential for sustainable development and protection of such a wealth of natural and cultural resources," than Brazil. 

She said, sadly, much of the environmental degradation in Brazil is due to slash and burn farming techniques, and unsustainable grazing practices, but this will make it a good place to study "the growing environmental movement." Her passion for issues of the environment and her life-long involvement with agriculture make her particularly suited and excited about her coming study in Brazil. 

"I'm so excited that this grant came through to support my passion for learning more about environmental and agricultural sustainability," she said.

Kellner, the daughter of Mark and Penny Kellner of Bakersfield, VT, graduated from Bellows Free Academy before coming to Saint Michael's.

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