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Meet the Fellows

Semilla Nueva would like to warmly welcome our very first Development Fellows, Haley Kirk and Lisa Eash! The Fellowship Program at Semilla Nueva is a 6.5 month long placement for individuals who want to further their on-the-ground experience in non-profit management and agricultural development. 

Haley Kirk hails from Dixon, Illinois and attended North Central College in Naperville, Illinois where she studied Global Studies: Developing States and Spanish. Haley is an experienced traveller in Guatemala, first visiting for 3-weeks with her Anthropology professor, Dr. Matthew Krystal, to work on a documentary project on tourism, textiles, and traditional maize production in Guatemala then returning in 2012 to work as an intern for Mesoamerican Institute of Permaculture near Lake Atitlan. She is now back once again to join Semilla Nueva’s Fellowship Program!

Why did you want the fellowship at SN? After graduation I was looking for an opportunity that would use my Spanish and hopefully bring me back to Latin America. I also wanted to broaden my experience within the realm of development and NGOs, specifically those focused on sustainable agriculture.

How did you become interested in sustainable agriculture? For me sustainable agriculture is the intersection of two major interests. Sustainable agriculture addresses issues of human need and culture while also addressing environmental concerns. You can’t adequately care for people if you aren’t also caring for the spaces they inhabit. People are very strongly linked with the places where they live and the foods they eat. The Mayan creation story explains how the first people were made of corn and I think the importance of corn in Guatemala is still reflected today and continues to be a large part of national identity.

What are you most excited to get out of this fellowship?  I’m excited to move beyond a lot of the theory behind development that I learned in school and help put things into practice. I’m also excited to be involved with a startup organization during a time of change and growth. I feel like the projects that I work on will have an impact on the future of the organization.

Lisa Eash grew up in a small town outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania before she attended Cornell University where she studied Biology and Latin American Studies. At Cornell, Lisa had the opportunity to study abroad in Ecuador where she studied various ecosystems and discovered her passion for environmental conservation. Since graduating, her interests in travel and plant biology have lead her to live and work in various places throughout the world-including farming in in New Mexico and teaching in South Korea. We are thrilled that she has chosen Guatemala as her next destination!

Why did you want the fellowship at SN? Aside from my eagerness to return to Latin America, I was drawn to the fellowship because I am passionate about the mission of Semilla Nueva. I believe the best way to bring about large-scale change is through the empowerment of small communities. I am excited to contribute to their vision, since I feel that my skills in agriculture and research are closely in line with the job description. The opportunity to learn about the behind-the-scenes work of a growing non-profit was also appealing to me. 

 What are you most excited to get out of this fellowship? I hope to learn more about sustainable agriculture techniques and the benefits and challenges of putting them into practice in small communities. I also hope to further focus my interests and gain a better idea of what grad school program or career path I want to pursue.

 What aspect of SN’s work interests you the most? I am most excited about Semilla Nueva’s small-scale experimentation and analysis of potential sustainable agriculture technologies. Teaching farmers how to engage in this experimentation themselves, and select beneficial practices accordingly, allows them to make decisions that benefit their land and income. This not only advances what we know about sustainable agriculture, but also ensures that the best interest of the community is always prioritized. 

 Semilla Nueva is excited to have two Fellows on staff!

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