Junior Walters ’19 Awarded The Steve and Riea Lainoff Crop Trust Fellowship in Honor of Cary Fowler

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Junior Walters ’19, a history major from Louisville, KY, has been awarded The Steve and Riea Lainoff Crop Trust Fellowship in Honor of Cary Fowler. The fellowship is made possible through the generosity of Steve and Riea Lainoff, who are the parents of Rhodes graduates Brian and Mark Lainoff.

As a fellow, Walters will join the partnerships team of the Global Crop Diversity Trust in Bonn, Germany, in August. The 12-month fellowship provides the opportunity for a recent graduate to develop an understanding of the Crop Trust’s work and the issues associated with agricultural biodiversity conservation. Previous fellows have assisted in planning conferences and events, developing communications materials, and even accompanying deposits to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

“I have always been interested in environmental issues but had never considered entering a career in environmental work,” says Walters. “Serving as Student Trustee and meeting Board Chairman Cary Fowler, who served as the Crop Trust’s first executive director, inspired me to pursue this line of work. His passion and wisdom inspired me to apply for the fellowship.”

Walters participated in the Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies as a summer 2017 fellow. Working with Dr. Charles McKinney of the history department, he directed a short documentary film about poverty, inequality, and hunger in the Mississippi Delta. This began three years of researching food security in the American South, culminating in his Honors thesis about farm cooperatives in Mississippi in the 20th century.
“I found my passion for food security by way of studying history,” says Walters. “I also want to give credit to the history department and its faculty. They taught me how to look at the world and gave me so many transferable skills that will serve me well at the Crop Trust.”

Last summer, Walters was an editorial intern for the Institute for Southern Studies, writing about the political and social ramifications of poverty and inequality.  On campus, he has worked as a Rhodes Student Associate in the Office of Alumni Relations and has been a staff writer for the college’s newspaper, the Sou'wester.

“Throughout my time at Rhodes, I’ve developed a passion for understanding and sustaining local and global food systems,” he says. “The Crop Trust fellowship will give me the opportunity to pursue that passion fully. In the future, I hope to pursue graduate studies in history, focusing on the history of inequality and food security in the American South.”


In related news, Ally Nawrocki ’20, an environmental science major from Franklin, TN, has been awarded the Crop Trust Summer Internship for 2019. Rhodes, in collaboration with the Global Crop Diversity Trust, offers a 10-week summer internship in Bonn, Germany, that provides the intern with exposure to the working environment of an international organization and a better understanding of the global system of crop diversity conservation.

“During my internship, I will be living in Bonn and assisting both the science and communications teams at the Crop Trust with forming partnerships, research and data analysis, and preparing communications materials,” says Nawrocki. 

Nawrocki has been an intern for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the Southern Environmental Law Center. She plans to attend law school after graduation, and adds, “I would ideally love to work as an attorney for an environmental government organization at the state level or a nonprofit organization.”