EMMA STEIN ‘19

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE MAJOR/AGROECOLOGY FOCUS

Greenwich, NY | born & raised

Emma is passionate about science and gathering the skills she needs to be a well-rounded person who  participates in community life. Emma initially attended college in Ohio, majoring in environmental science. Realizing she wanted to put science into a more tangible perspective, she sought out Sterling.

Emma applied and accepted her admission to Sterling at the end of her fall semester in Ohio, without ever visiting campus. She was attracted to the College because of its community-based, practical skills offering. Her first impression of Sterling, after arriving in January for a spring semester start, was that it was “cozy, both the community and the buildings. Things were available to me to make it feel like home, like tea being available whenever I wanted it.” An avid alpine skier and a novice cross-country skier, Emma joined the Sterling Nordic Ski team this season, and will train and compete just down the road at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.

Welcoming summer

Emma shared that a highlight of her experience at Sterling so far was the transition on campus from spring to summer, and the “opportunity to be here when everything comes alive.” Emma was the course assistant for the School of the New American Farmstead last summer, welcoming guest instructors like Tradd Cotter and Frank Reese to Sterling, and helping continuing education students get oriented to campus.

Faculty connections

Faculty in Sustainable Agriculture Dr. Charlotte Rosendahl is Emma’s advisor, which is an ideal match for Emma, as she appreciates Charlotte’s experience as a soil scientist and her research background. Emma is taking two classes with Charlotte this fall, and is especially excited about the curriculum of and small class size for Soil, Plants, Microbes II.

Advice for new students

Emma’s advice to new students is to “be committed to participating in what is going on. Be prepared to participate in community and in your classes. Sterling provides a great template for you to apply community-building skills, academic skills and practical skills.”

Opportunities on campus and off

Emma’s Work Program position this year is as a Coyote Kids Mentor. Working with three other Sterling students, the team collaboratively plans for a weekly afternoon with local elementary students who participate in the program, playing in the woods and fields on campus and telling stories in a structure they built.

Sterling offers many opportunities for students to take their studies off-campus, which for Emma, means studying in Kentucky as part of the Wendell Berry Farming Program (WBFP). This past September, she took Homecoming I: Good Work is Membership, a two-week, field-based intensive course that served as the inaugural class of the WBFP. The course introduced students to the WBFP, The Berry Center (TBC), and its home place, Henry County, Kentucky. Students gained insight into the natural and cultural history of the area by exploring how good work leads to membership in place.

Of that experience, Emma said, “It’s exciting to be down here during a time when clearly something is not going right in agriculture, but no one really has an exact answer … and I think that’s where the Wendell Berry Farming Program comes in. Getting minds together that want to make a change, that want to do something differently, and giving them the framework and the opportunities to implement their ideas in Henry County is a really powerful idea.”

What’s next?

Emma graduates next summer. She will participate in the May commencement ceremony and then embark to California for her final Sterling class–a five-week, five-credit wilderness course in the Sierra Nevada. In August, Emma begins a four-year program at Daoist Traditions College of Chinese Medical Arts in North Carolina. “They have an herb farm, and students are required to participate in farm chores, so that feels familiar!”


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