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Corinne Almquist '09 and Tripp Burwell '09

Two Middlebury seniors awarded Compton Mentor Fellowships [Video]

May 1, 2009

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - Middlebury College seniors Walter "Tripp" Burwell of Raleigh, N.C., and Corinne Almquist of Randolph, N.J., have been selected from a national pool of nominees to receive the Compton Mentor Fellowship. The Compton Foundation, based in Redwood City, Calif., created the Mentor Fellowship Program to support the creativity and commitment of graduating seniors as they move beyond academics and into the world. The fellowship lasts for one year, with a stipend of $35,000, beginning and ending at the annual mid-June gathering of fellows held in the San Francisco area.

Almquist, a joint environmental studies and religion major, wants to make the climate movement more inclusive of families and communities around the globe. "My project aims to mobilize low income individuals to take part in the growing climate movement by addressing an issue that citizens think about and experience every single day: food." Almquist hopes her work will help reduce the carbon footprint of American food by improving low-income families' access to nutritious local food.

During her fellowship, Almquist will promote the practice of gleaning, which is the collection of fruits and vegetables that have been left in the field after harvest or that cannot be sold due to specific commercial shape or size requirements demanded by the marketplace. She notes that economists and the USDA estimate that 20 percent of food grown in the United States never reaches consumers and that increasingly organizations are seeing an opportunity to reduce food waste while feeding the hungry.

Almquist plans to focus on Vermont, where she has numerous connections to the farming community, and work with the gleaning organization Salvation Farms of Craftsbury, to create a statewide gleaning network. "On a statewide scale, gleaning could provide hundreds of thousands of pounds of food for nutritionally insecure Vermonters," she says. "The statewide network I plan to create would include a detailed database that would enable field coordinators to publicize whenever farmers have certain crops available." From that point, the network would notify volunteers who would harvest and deliver the food to local food shelves. "There is already widespread interest in the possibilities of gleaning in Vermont," says Almquist. "Vermont could set a national example of providing food shelves with healthy local food."

Thousands of miles from Vermont, Tripp Burwell, who has a joint major in environmental studies and biology, will be living in Alaska's northernmost settlement of Barrow where he will work on climate change issues that impact the native Inupiat Eskimos. Specifically, Burwell wants to look at the ways in which science and traditional ecological knowledge converge for the betterment of local communities. He plans to work with the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium (BASC) and the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management to develop stronger linkages between the scientific and native communities in the Barrow area.

"I am proposing to work with Inupiat Eskimos to design projects addressing issues of climate change," says Burwell, "and particularly its effects on wildlife that serve as food resources." Burwell hopes that the long-term studies he identifies through his work with BASC would serve as an "idea bank" for subsequent research.

Middlebury is one of 10 schools, including Berea College, Clark University, Furman University, Lewis and Clark College, Morehouse College, Oberlin College, Princeton University, Tufts University and Vassar College in the Compton program. Participating institutions reviewed applications, conducted interviews and identified up to two candidates for national consideration.

For more information about the Compton Foundation Mentor Fellowship Program, visit

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