Third year student Hannah Catt spent her summer as a Russell Brinsfield Summer Intern, living and working at the University of Maryland Wye Research Farm in Queenstown, MD. The Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI) partnered with the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology to create the Russell Brinsfield Summer Internship Program to address the challenges facing Maryland farmers. Hannah worked alongside Melissa Stefun a rising junior at University of Maryland, College Park majoring in environmental science and technology.
Hannah spent the summer working primarily to develop a new resource, the Agricultural Conservation Leasing Guide. While approximately 42% of Maryland farmland is leased, leased farmland is less likely to use conservation practices for a variety of reasons, including a lack of communication between the parties to the lease, indefinite lease terms, and financial uncertainties. The guide will help landowners and farmers communicate about conservation values and use a simple farm lease to successfully implement conservation practices on leased land.
In developing the guide, Hannah visited many Maryland farms, meeting with attorneys and staff at the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and other agricultural professionals around the state. Hannah combined her legal knowledge, her personal background in agriculture, and the experiences gleaned from meeting with key stakeholders across the state to produce a publication that will encourage environmental stewardship while protecting farm profitability.
Through her work on another project, Hannah learned about Maryland’s burgeoning shellfish aquaculture industry. She performed valuable research to aid a Department of Natural Resources working group in its policy proposal pertaining to the impact of shellfish aquaculture on submerged aquatic vegetation, a key Chesapeake Bay indicator species.
The internship program will be seeking applications from interested students for the summer of 2018 in the coming months. Students with questions should contact, Sarah Everhart, ALEI Senior Legal Specialist and adjunct professor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Left to Right- Melissa Stefun, Russell Brinsfield and Hannah Catt)