Meet Our Interns
The Russ Brinsfield Internship Program is a collaboration between the Hughes Center and the University of Maryland Agriculture Law Education Initiative. The internship program, which began in 2017, engages an undergraduate student from the University of Maryland College of AGNR and a law student enrolled at the Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, who work together to develop viable solutions to a variety of complex environmental, agricultural and forestry-related issues.
2022 Brinsfield Interns
During this presentation, our 2022 Brinsfield Interns discuss details of their findings and work from over the summer.
This year, the Hughes Center and ALEI expanded this program to include four interns — two from each institution. This is doubled from the usual two interns typically supported yearly under this program. This internship’s expansion would not have been possible without the financial support of the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State (MPower), which is a program through the University of Maryland, Baltimore and UMD College Park that fosters collaborations between both institutions to address the state’s most critical issues.
This summer, the Brinsfield interns will be working on four major projects:
- Aid in developing a website allowing farmers and landowners to build a farm lease that supports conservation practices. This project is part of the Hughes Center's and ALEI's ongoing work with the Maryland Conservation Leasing Project and associated guide.
- Create a zoning matrix for agritourism-related activities and on-farm manufacturing for Maryland counties and Baltimore City.
- Provide research findings on alternative materials that could potentially be used as a base for planting aquaculture oysters.
- Write blog posts for the Farm Bill Law Enterprise Program, an effort that ALEI has joined. This project is designed to work with other law schools and provide blog posts about the proposed 2023 Farm Bill.
- Produce research that looks at the liability issues that surround school gardens and serving the food produced by those gardens.
Meet the 2022 Brinsfield Interns:
Mariah Campbell studies agricultural and natural resource economics at the University of Maryland, College Park. She considers herself a horticulturist because she enjoys cultivating plants and fungi in her garden. She also enjoys skateboarding, reading and sketching, and spends as much time as possible at concerts or traveling.
She is excited about this internship because all her projects involve sustainability. The project she is most intrigued by is Urban Agricultural Leasing. Urban agriculture is an increasingly utilized form of agriculture about which she wants to learn more. She will also be working with agritourism zoning and value-added product protocols.
Sam Fairbanks is a rising second-year (2L) law student at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. She is focusing her legal education on environmental and agricultural law. As an undergraduate, Sam studied geology and environmental management at James Madison University in Virginia. Sam's background is in agricultural nutrient management, and she has enjoyed getting involved in the local farming communities. Outside of law school, Sam enjoys photography and traveling.
"I am excited to have the opportunity to meet new people and learn about the many niches outside of nutrient management! I look forward to building upon background knowledge and expanding into food systems law," she said.
Sam is working on projects related to food liability, conservation leases, value-added food regulations and the upcoming Farm Bill.
Nathan McMullen is an undergraduate student at the University of Maryland at College Park pursuing a degree in Agricultural and Resource Economics. In his career, McMullen hopes to impact food security and access to nutrition through policy, private sector and public interest advocacy. The Brinsfield Internship aligns strongly with McMullen's goals of engaging with food systems stakeholders and understanding the policy environment that shapes our food system.
"I am so excited to be a part of the Brinsfield team. Working with the Hughes Center and ALEI is the first step towards my goal of an impactful career in food systems," he said.
McMullen is working on several projects this summer, including cost/benefit assessments for oyster aquaculture, food safety liability for school gardens, conservation agriculture lease builder, and blog posts for the farm bill law enterprise. For McMullen, the diversity of subject matter is one of the most engaging and challenging aspects of the Russell Brinsfield Internship Program.
Alex Sadzewicz is a rising second-year (2L) student at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law on the environmental law track. Her interests lie in environmental and agricultural law. She was a biology major and history and chemistry minor at Butler University as an undergraduate. She has worked in a variety of labs with projects related to agricultural and public health issues. Outside of law, Sadzewicz is interested in painting and writing.
Sadzewicz was interested in becoming a Brinsfield intern because of the intersection between prior research experience and interest in law school. "Agriculture has been a theme in the work that I did during undergraduate. There are a lot of different ways that law impacts agriculture, and looking at the work by past interns, I knew there would be a lot of opportunities to familiarize myself with agricultural law and participate in an array of projects," she said.
She is working on projects related to urban agriculture leasing, aquaculture, and the upcoming Farm Bill.
Maeve Kessler is a rising senior environmental science and policy major specializing in environmental geosciences and restoration at the University of Maryland. She is also pre-law with a particular interest in environmental law. On campus, she works as a student ambassador for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, which involves recruiting and supporting new incoming students. Kessler is also the vice president of the campus geology club and an undergraduate student researcher at the Soil Quality Lab under Dr. Ray Weil. Originally from Yardley, Pa., Kessler is looking forward to working on issues related to nutrient management for the Chesapeake Bay, an issue she is passionate about, and the opportunity to meet and work with other environmental professionals, especially environmental lawyers, as she prepares to apply to law school in the fall.
Codi Coulter is a rising second-year law student at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. She has an undergraduate degree in agricultural communications from Texas Tech University. Before law school, Coulter held several communications positions in the restaurant and agriculture industries and an agency working with a federal government client. Coulter has a lifelong interest in agriculture and its role in feeding a growing world. Coulter intends to use her legal education to advocate for farmers and ranchers and help them find sustainable solutions to the challenges they face. According to Coulter, “[t]he Brinsfield internship is a great opportunity to bridge my agricultural communications background with my ongoing legal education. I’m looking forward to learning about agriculture and sustainability in Maryland and applying the knowledge and skills I gain from this internship to my future legal career.”
2021 Russ Brinsfield interns Maeve Kessler and Codi Coulter present the projects they worked on during the summer.
Harry is entering his last undergraduate semester at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources as a double major in economics and agricultural science.
He is a Baltimore City native. He has experience in agriculture policy, having worked for the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry where he prepped briefings and reports and conducted research to inform policymakers using data. He also works as a field manager at the University of Maryland Weil Research Lab, giving him practical experience with agricultural best management practices.
Harry will continue in his role with the Hughes Center through December 2020. After graduation, Harry desires to work in agricultural policy.
“I came into this hoping to learn more about Maryland agriculture and policy. What I realized was I got to learn about Maryland people — all the people working in agriculture and ag policy in Maryland have made this incredibly impactful,” he said. “What I realized is this really is just a small community that we are now a part of, and getting to be introduced into that community, getting to meet these smart people who have been so dedicated and working on these issues for so long and getting to make those connections has truly been the most important thing I’m taking away from this internship.”
Liz Johnson joined the program as she enters her second year at the Francis King Carey School of Law.
Liz grew up in College Park and is currently enrolled at the Francis King Carey School of Law. She became interested in plant science in high school and continued that passion through the undergraduate program at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, where she was a member of the academic agricultural sorority Sigma Alpha.
“Agriculture is where my heart is and I want to make sure my career is closely tied to that love,” Liz said. “I connected with the mission of the Hughes Center of using solid research to help farmers make environmentally sound uses of their land that are also economically viable. As someone who came from a science background, I felt that the internship would be a good job for helping me tie together my past experience with my new career.”
Liz said she applied to be the law student in the Russ Brinsfield Internship Program in order to get a first-hand look at the problems facing the agricultural world.
“As a person who came from a science background, I was really glad that my first legal internship was a good blend of science and law. I really got to blend the things that I loved,” Liz said of her experience with the internship. “I think that this experience is going to be really helpful with my career path both because of the skills that I've gained, but because of the connections that I’ve made.”
Over the summer of 2020, our interns worked on the following projects.
- An educational resource and a model contract for nutrient trades between a farmer and an urban stormwater permit holder.
- Created a research bank to quantify economic benefits of seven specific best management practices for the Maryland Soil Health Advisory Committee.
- Continued previous years’ interns’ work on a guide to forest mitigation banking in Maryland.
- Produced a memo to the Maryland Food to Maryland Institutions Task Force on common issues in the Chesapeake foodshed in order to determine potential solutions to improve the food system’s equity and resilience to exogenous shocks.
- Created a FAQ tool linking to Extension resources that answers new farmers’ business and legal questions.
- Produce a blog post that can help farmers interested in hemp understand the new regulations and potentially start growing.
- Produced a document on marketing honey in Maryland.
The Russ Brinsfield Interns, Harry Huntley and Liz Johnson, present on their accomplishments throughout the summer of 2020.
Over the summer of 2019, our interns, rising UMD junior Michael Marinelli and second-year law student Victoria Long (pictured left), worked on the following projects:
Detailed the findings of three regional food reports commissioned by the Hughes Center for consideration into Maryland’s upcoming strategic plan for agriculture.
Finalized a report on current regulations and penalties relating to the theft of aquaculture oysters and presented it to the Maryland Aquaculture Coordinating Council.
Developed and presented to the Maryland Department of Agriculture a report on Virginia’s best management practice tax credit program.
Followed up with attendees of the 2019 Conservation Leasing Guide workshops and collected data on the implementation of best management practices on leased farmland.
Initiated the creation of a legal guide on direct marketing for specialty crop producers in Maryland.
Gathered data on forest mitigation banking in Maryland, including details on varying strategies in each county.
Researched urban agriculture tax credit programs across the country with a goal to improve Baltimore City’s urban agriculture program.
2019 Russ Brinsfield Interns Michael Marinelli and Victoria Long give their end-of-summer presentation on Aug. 1 at the Wye Research and Education Center.