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Welcoming the 2011-2012 Au Sable Graduate Fellows

Nov 17, 2011

Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies welcomes this year's 2011-2012 Au Sable Graduate Fellows cohort!  These graduate students have been accepted as fellows for their eagerness to integrate their Christian faith with the principles and practices of environmental stewardship throughout their graduate program.  Graduate Fellows chapters -- at Cornell University, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, and University of Wisconsin-Madison -- allow students to support one another by meeting regularly to foster a community of learners committed to exploring topics and issues in Christian environmental stewardship.  Fellows from all chapters meet once a year at the Great Lakes Campus in Mancelona, Michigan for a winter conference.

Congratulations to the following students who have been designated as fellows in 2011-2012:

Bethany Laursen

Bethany grew up in California’s Central Valley and graduated from Biola University in 2006 with a B.S. in Biological Sciences, a minor in Chemistry, and functional minors in classics, Bible, and environmental studies through the Torrey Honors and Au Sable Institute (Pacific Rim, summer 2004). Bethany was inspired by her summer at Au Sable to become a founding member and second president of Biola’s first environmental club. Since then, she has been an outdoor and science educator, wilderness trip leader, and research intern for various seasons in Maine and New Hampshire. Now, Bethany is pursuing an M.S. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying the governance of biomass and bird habitat in southwest Wisconsin. She dreams of teaching Christian college students in a residential program like Au Sable that incorporates the great books of western civilization, Christian thought, and social-ecological system resilience through discussion and wilderness travel. Bethany connects to God’s creation by laying in the leaves, playing guitar and singing, traveling rivers by canoe, swing dancing, and coiling messy ropes.

Amanda McMillan

Amanda is a graduate student in Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, working towards her MS/PhD.  She is particularly interested in agriculture as a mechanism of community re-establishment, environmental conservation, and sense of “home” in post-disaster scenarios.  After graduating from Messiah College in Pennsylvania, Amanda worked as the assistant to the founder of A Rocha, a Christian conservation organization, in France.  She returned to the US in 2009 to polish her skills of phone-answering as a receptionist at an engineering firm.   She also worked part-time as an afterschool agriculture club coordinator at an urban garden in Harrisburg, PA.  Amanda is very happy to be back at school, particularly in such a bike-friendly, sunny city as Madison.  She is involved with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and Geneva Campus Church.  Amanda’s playtimes include swing and folk dancing, hosting board-game nights, and chatting with friends in coffee shops.

Christine Yaeger

Christine is a M.S. student in Natural Resources Science and Management at the University of Minnesota. Her thesis focuses on evaluating a watershed outreach intervention program in southwestern Illinois (near St. Louis, MO), and exploring the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to help inform future work of extension and outreach professionals. She enjoys the applied aspect of evaluation and is excited about doing more outreach and education work, especially internationally related to missions. During the summer of 2011 she spent a month with the NGO Care of Creation in Kenya surveying farmers around Kijabe. Prior to starting a Masters she waded many a stream across Minnesota and Iowa as a hydrotech with the U.S. Geological Survey and worked with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture's North Central Region SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) grant program. She completed her B.S. in Natural Resources at Minnesota in 2006. Christine is involved with Jubilee Community Church and connects with nature through photography and outdoor activities like biking around lakes, running at local parks, snowshoeing, and camping.

Kathryn Bomey

Kathryn is pursuing a master’s degree at the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan. She has a dual-concentration in behavior, education, and communication and in conservation biology, with plans to graduate in spring 2012. She is studying behavior change resulting from environmental education, communication, and outreach programs, as well as expanding her ecology background and field skills. Working in the forests of Vermont during a Nature Conservancy internship in summer 2011 strengthened Kathryn’s passion for conservation and helped her form an even deeper connection with the natural world. After earning her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Eastern Michigan University in 2007, Kathryn worked for three years as a reporter at a daily newspaper, where her interest in conservation developed as she wrote occasional articles about the environment. The daughter-in-law of a pastor (and wife of a P.K.), Kathryn enjoys playing the flute in her church’s orchestra.

Allyson Green

Allyson is working on a joint MS in Environmental Justice and MPH in Environmental Health at the University of Michigan. Her love for nature and interest in environmental justice stems from growing up in Baraboo, WI, a town rooted in a strong conservation history yet facing controversies over land use and environmental health issues. After graduating from Calvin College, where she spent a semester in New Zealand and Samoa with the Creation Care Studies Program, she moved to southwest Virginia to serve as a VISTA volunteer with the Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team. She put her Secondary Science Education degree partially to work writing curriculum, doing community outreach, and learning birding and mandolin playing tips from her neighbors. She then spent a couple years doing environmental education and community outreach near Milwaukee before heading back to school. Allyson finds immense joy in small wonders and takes every opportunity possible to help cultivate a sense of wonder in others, even if that just means taking a minute to watch the squirrel antics during the morning walk to school.

Anna Mitterling

Anna Mitterling is currently pursuing a master's degree at Michigan State University in the Fisheries and Wildlife Department.  Her focus is on deer  cooperatives in Michigan and how being part of a group may effect individual hunter behavior.  She received her bachelor's degree from Spring Arbor University, where she attended the Au Sable Institute for a January Term and had a great experience!  Anna emulates Christ's love when working with people in wildlife management.  Her care for the people she interacts with allows them to listen to and respect what she has to say.  She connects to nature on a regular basis by immersing herself in it, through hiking in the full colors of fall or a cross-country skiing over a fresh coat of snow.  The magnificent beauty is stunning and reminds her of our Creator.

Janet Rice Barclay

Janet is a graduate student in Environmental Engineering at Cornell University.  As part of the Soil and Water Lab, her research interests include studying how stream restoration and climate change impact the microbial processes of removing nitrogen from soil and water, and utilizing community volunteers to assess restoration success.  She received her BS in Biomedical Engineering (Chemical Engineering Concentration) from Johns Hopkins University in 1999, and then a certificate in Leadership and Camp Ministry through Wheaton College at HoneyRock Camp.  Afterwards, she worked in campus ministry with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and as an associate pastor at St. Andrews Christian Church.  One of her highlights from this season was developing and leading an outdoor adventure and cross-cultural service trip to introduce students to the environmental and justice issues facing the Penobscot Indian Nation and the Penobscot River.  Her tenure in vocational ministry gave her a deeper appreciation for the natural world and the interactions between the many members of ecological communities and she is excited to bring that value to her scientific work.  Janet is refreshed and restored by most anytime outside in natural settings, but she especially enjoys extended trips hiking, paddling, or back-country skiing, either alone in the quiet (for short trips) or with her husband and son (in the not so quiet).

Leah Zimmerman

Leah is a dual degree student at the University of Michigan, jointly pursuing an MS at the School of Natural Resources and Environment and an MBA at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. She is motivated professionally by both a deep appreciation for her role as a steward of Creation and by a desire to provide faith-enriching experiences in nature for future generations. Leah received a BA in Russian and East European Studies from Yale University and studied Russian Language and International Relations as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar at Far Eastern State University in Vladivostok, Russia. After an adventure-filled conservation career in Siberia and the Russian Far East, Leah realized that she wanted to return to her home state — Michigan — and to spend her efforts protecting the region's rich natural resources and growing vibrant local communities. Before coming back to Michigan, Leah served as Russia Program Director and Interim Executive Director for San Francisco-based Pacific Environment, worked as an independent consultant for Portland-based Wild Salmon Center, taught English and volunteered for organizations in Siberia, and interned for Yale Students for Christ. In her spare time, Leah enjoys playing and coaching soccer, experimenting in the kitchen, backpacking, and cycling on quiet country roads.

Josh Miller

Josh is a current MS student in Environmental Policy and Planning at the University of Michigan SNRE. His love for the natural world began in rural Michigan on camping, hunting, and fishing trips with his father. His love for spiritual restoration began in a small, rural youth ministry, and grew during his years as an undergraduate at Huntington University, IN. Following graduation, Josh and his wife, Andrea, moved to Syracuse, NY, where he served as an associate pastor. Disillusioned with a faith that separated the spiritual and the physical, he moved to Asbury Theological Seminary, KY, where he earned a MA degree in Biblical Studies, focusing on religion and the environment. This experience birthed a desire to work as a person of faith toward environmental stewardship and justice revolving around freshwater policy. He is interested in pursuing a career with a NGO in watershed policy and management, and plans to eventually work with an international NGO that aids community-based organizations in developing countries with education, networking, resources, and expertise. He is especially fond of his three children, of gardening, of health, and of sustainable living.

Christine Baver

Christine is a MS student at Cornell University studying Environmental Engineering. Her work is motivated by the presence of preferential flow in Israel, which results in decreasing crop yield and increased contaminant transport.  More specifically, she studies dynamic contact angles and how it relates to the onset and formation of preferential flow. Prior to her graduate work, she studied physics in Pacific Lutheran University (2009) and was introduced to environmental engineering through a summer internship as a park ranger in Pennsylvania and through irrigation research on campus at PLU.  She is currently attends St. Luke and Graduate Christian Fellowship. Christine listens to nature through pottery, running, driving tractors for long extended periods of time, biking, planting, hiking, swimming and eating!

Paul Simonin

Paul is a PhD student at Cornell University studying aquatic ecology and fisheries, and is conducting research in the Great Lakes of North America and subsistence fishing communities in Southeast Asia. He first became interested in Christian conservation work while growing up in the Adirondack region of New York State and interacting with seemingly disparate church and conservation circles. His more recent work in Southeast Asia has been a particularly appropriate venue for studying how differing worldviews affect human relationships with land/seascapes and places. In Ithaca, Paul is involved with New Life Presbyterian Church and Cornell’s Graduate Christian Fellowship. He enjoys a range of outdoor activities from hiking and skiing to kayaking and diving, and though graduate school can be wonderful, he escapes Ithaca for these and other adventures whenever possible.


Read more about current and past graduate fellows on our Au Sable Graduate Fellows website.