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Vermont research award goes to Middlebury student for fourth consecutive year

April 30, 2008

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? Middlebury College senior Lisa Gerstenberger has received the Andrew E. Nuquist Award for Outstanding Research on a Vermont Topic. The award is sponsored by the Center for Research on Vermont, based at the University of Vermont, and was presented at the center's annual meeting May 1.

A a joint sociology/anthropology and environmental studies major with a focus in human ecology from Littleton, Colo., Gerstenberger won the award for her senior essay titled "Changing Attitudes Towards Farmland Conservation Easements in Addison County, Vermont." Working with the Vermont Land Trust, she interviewed 28 owners of conserved land in Addison County during the summer of 2007 to better understand why some landowners favor conservation easements - legal restrictions designed to protect natural features of the land - while others do not.

"Land trusts need to understand the changing ways in which people balance the benefits and drawbacks of easements," says Gerstenberger, "in order to plan effectively for their future role in land conservation."

Gerstenberger's advisor, Middlebury College Assistant Professor of Anthropology Michael Sheridan, recommended her for the award. "Her results are striking," says Sheridan. "Lisa's project was a good candidate for the Nuquist Award because Vermont is one of the nation's leaders in local land trust conservation efforts, and she has identified what makes these programs work from the landowners' perspective.  This sort of insightful, creative analysis of how conservation success happens is much richer and more nuanced than a top-down policy study ever could be."

This is the fourth year in a row that a Middlebury student has won the Nuquist Award. Since its inception in 1982, 14 Middlebury students have won the award. For more information, visit: the Center for Research on Vermont web site.

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