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2021 Fellows Arrive & Get Busy

Even after one of history’s most challenging years for…well, for just about everybody on the planet, our 2021 cohort of five fellows has arrived! And they are clearly ready to change that planet for the better. This year, due to the schedule-morphing aspects of the pandemic, we have a happy anomaly: An overlap of fellows time with us. Last year’s cohort (Annie, Emily, Alex, and Kyra) are still at the foundation, either as newly hired members of The Aldo Leopold Foundation staff, or having extended their fellowship a few months before taking on new conservation positions elsewhere, or continuing in higher education.

So if you have plans to visit us in Baraboo beginning July 6, you may meet many wildly-talented fellow-looking folks around the buildings or on the trails. Everyone will be tickled-pink to chat with you!

Without further ado, meet the 2021 Future Leaders Program Fellows:

 

Lainet Garcia Rivera
—USFWS Directorate Fellowship

I was raised and educated in Cuba and I spent part of my career there leading research in bat ecology and teaching conservation biology courses. I moved to Wisconsin in 2010 and have enjoyed exploring all the natural resources this state has to offer. My first job after moving to the United States was at the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee, teaching local residents about the importance of pollinators and nature in the city. This job really helped grow my awareness about Wisconsin’s wonderful flora and fauna.

In 2018 I was employed by The Nature Conservancy to help develop their first Urban Conservation Program, in the city of Milwaukee. I learned a great deal about how TNC works collaboratively with landowners to achieve their conservation goals and the different strategies used to ensure the preservation of ecosystems and ecosystem services. Working there was a wonderful experience! While working at The Nature Conservancy, I observed how spatial data analyses were used to assist and support decision-making processes in conservation. I found it all to be so fascinating that I enrolled in the Environmental Observation and Informatics (EOI) master’s program at the Nelson Institute. I hope to apply what I have learned in my master’s program to this fellowship with the Aldo Leopold Foundation and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

Jack Jennetta
—Land Stewardship Fellow

I grew up in a small town in north-central Connecticut, surrounded by woods and just a five-minute bike ride to a state wildlife refuge. Encouraged to explore these woods by my father, this setting instilled a passion for hiking in, mountain biking through, skating on frozen ponds and simply observing whatever slice of paradise I was lucky enough to call home. When I had the decision to attend Tulane University in New Orleans or stay relatively close to home and become a UConn husky, I knew it was time to venture far beyond my small town. This decision expanded my viewpoint, developed my perspective, and cemented my desire to pursue a career bettering our physical and social environment.

While at Tulane and during my time studying abroad in Beijing, I majored in environmental studies, political science, and Mandarin Chinese. While in these diverse environments, I dipped my toe in environmental non-profit work, ornithological field research on the Louisiana coastline, operations management at a Beijing-based zero-waste lifestyle store, and museum curation at the world’s largest fish collection. All of these experiences led me to the Aldo Leopold Land Stewardship Fellowship, where I hope to continue learning new skills, new ways to protect our environments both local and global, meet new friends, and make lifelong connections before continuing my education.

 

Eric Synder
—Land Stewardship Fellow

Growing up in rural Wisconsin, I always had an affinity for the outdoors. My family would often take multi-weeklong canoe trips to the Quetico Provincial Park in Canada, which helped form my interest in natural resources. After high school I was not interested in immediately going to college, I was a bit of an itinerant, working various trade skill jobs and as an arborist before deciding upon college. Wanting a change and adventure, I moved to Alaska where I had some family living. There, I enlisted in the Army National Guard as an Airborne Infantryman and attended the University of Alaska for two-years before transferring to the University of Colorado to finish up my degree.

While attending the University of Colorado and finishing up my enlistment, I worked with a local nonprofit for four years while also doing seasonal natural resource work for a local city park. While living in Denver I enjoyed and took full advantage of hiking fourteeners, camping, fishing, amazing restaurants, and the fun craft beer scene. For several years I have been looking forward to moving back home to Wisconsin, so I am very excited to join the Future Leaders Program and be a part of the Aldo Leopold Foundation’s team and legacy! 

 

Kei Kohmoto
—Education & Communication Fellow

My name is Kei and I am so excited to be joining the Aldo Leopold Foundation as an education and communication fellow! As a proud Wisconsinite, I have many fond memories of exploring the outdoors, from visiting local and state parks with friends and family to watching the sunset over Lake Mendota with an ice cream cone in hand. I am a recent graduate of the University of Michigan Ann Arbor where I earned a Bachelor’s degree from the Program in the Environment with a specialization in environmental communication.

I hope to apply and expand on my learning about how we communicate environmental issues, like climate change, and sustainability in ways that are welcoming, engaging, and inclusive. I am especially excited about learning firsthand what a land ethic means to me and how I can apply that learning to wherever I go. 

 

Jackson Newman
—Education & Communication Fellow

My name is Jackson Newman and I am from Bethesda, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C. In 2020, I graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in Political Science. As a Communications and Education Fellow at the Aldo Leopold Foundation, I hope to continue to develop my ability to communicate with varied audiences on environmental issues and tell compelling stories that highlight the need for a new land ethic. I am excited by the opportunity to live on the grounds of the farm and cultivate a deeper connection with my natural surroundings. 

Learn More about the Future Leaders Program