Good Food and Food Fights

Monday, July 26-Friday, July 30, 2021

College of the Atlantic’s Summer Institute is a week-long ideas festival that welcomes leaders from around the world to share their expertise and thoughts on the most pressing issues of our time. This year’s theme is Good Food and Food Fights. During the week, we explored all aspects of food—production, policy, climate change, food justice, hunger, organics, nutrition, and the joy of eating and cooking. 

Session Recordings

To view archived talks, please visit our YouTube channel.


2021 Summer Institute Speakers and Schedule

Selected Readings

Institute guests are an engaged audience. We have asked speakers to recommend inspiring and thought-provoking articles, videos, posts, etc. that will contribute to guests’ understanding and increase their depth of perspective. Please reference our list of selected readings if you’d like to review the issues.

2021 Selected Readings

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2021 Speakers

Michael Pollan Credit: Fran Collin

Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan is a writer, teacher, and activist. His newest book, This is Your Mind on Plants, will be released in July 2021. He is the author of eight previous books, including How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence (2018), Cooked (2013), Food Rules (2009), In Defense of Food (2008), The Omnivore’s Dilemma (2006), and The Botany of Desire (2001), all of which were New York Times best sellers. The Omnivore’s Dilemma was named one of the ten best books of the year by both The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Pollan teaches writing in the English department at Harvard and at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he has been the John S. and James, L. Knight Professor of Journalism since 2003. Several of his books have been adapted for television: a series based on Cooked (2015) is streaming on Netflix, and both The Botany of Desire and In Defense of Food premiered on PBS. In 2010, Time magazine named Pollan one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Pollan lives in Berkeley, California with his wife, the painter Judith Belzer.

Winona Credit: Adams

Winona LaDuke

Winona LaDuke is an internationally renowned activist working on issues of sustainable development, renewable energy, and food systems. She lives and works on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota, and is a two-time vice presidential candidate with Ralph Nader for the Green Party.

LaDuke is the program director of the Honor the Earth and founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, one of the largest reservation based non profit organizations in the country. 

In 2007, LaDuke was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, recognizing her leadership and community commitment. In 1994, LaDuke was nominated by Time magazine as one of America’s 50 most promising leaders under 40 years of age. She has been awarded the Thomas Merton Award in 1996, Ms. Woman of the Year (with the Indigo Girls) in 1997, and the Reebok Human Rights Award. The White Earth Land Recovery Project has won many awards—including the prestigious 2003 International Slow Food Award for Biodiversity, recognizing the organization’s work to protect wild rice from patenting and genetic engineering.

A graduate of Harvard and Antioch Universities, she has written extensively on Native American and environmental issues. She is a former board member of Greenpeace USA, and is presently an advisory board member for the Trust for Public Lands Native Lands Program, as well as a board member of the Christensen Fund. She is the author of To Be A Water Protector: The Rise of the Wiindigoo Slayers, which was released in December 2020. Her previous books include Recovering the Sacred (2005), All Our Relations (1999), and a novel—Last Standing Woman (1997), she is widely recognized for her work on environmental and human rights issues.


Soledad O’Brien

Soledad O’Brien is an award-winning documentarian, journalist, speaker, author, and philanthropist, who founded Soledad O’Brien Productions, a multi-platform media production company dedicated to telling empowering and authentic stories on a range of social issues. She anchors and produces the Hearst TV political magazine program “Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien” and is a correspondent for HBO Real Sports.

She is a thought leader, with over 1.3 million Twitter followers, who has a national impact through her speeches, numerous documentaries, and her presence on the op-ed pages of platforms like The New York Times and Huffington Post. She has anchored shows on CNN, MSNBC, and NBC, and reported for Fox, A&E, Oxygen, Nat Geo, the PBS NewsHour, WebMD, and Al Jazeera America, among others.

O’Brien’s work has been recognized with three Emmy awards, twice with the George Foster Peabody Award, three times with the Gracie Award which honors women in media, twice with Cine Awards for her work in documentary films, and also with an Alfred I. DuPont Award.

Dan Barber

Dan Barber

Dan Barber is the chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and the author of The Third Plate (2014). His opinions on food and agricultural policy have appeared in the New York Times, along with many other publications.

Appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, Barber continues the work that he began as a member of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture’s board of directors: to blur the line between the dining experience and the educational—bringing the principles of good farming directly to the table.

Barber has received multiple James Beard awards, including Best Chef: New York City (2006) and the country’s Outstanding Chef (2009). Barber also co-founded Row 7 Seed Company, which brings together chefs and plant breeders to develop new varieties of vegetables and grains. In 2009, he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart is the founder of the first multi-channel lifestyle company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, an entrepreneur, best-selling author of 98 to date lifestyle books, and Emmy award-winning television show host. Reaching more than 100 million devoted fans on a monthly basis through her magazines, television shows, books, and products for the home, sold at multiple retail and online outlets, Stewart is the “go-to” source for the homemaker. She and her talented staff provide trusted, timely, and useful information on all aspects of everyday living: cooking, entertaining, gardening, home renovating, collecting, organizing, crafting, healthy living, holidays, weddings and pet care, both in print and social media.


Leah Penniman

Leah Penniman

Leah Penniman is a Black Kreyol farmer/peyizan, mother, soil nerd, author, and food justice activist from Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York. She co-founded Soul Fire Farm in 2010 with the mission to end racism in the food system and reclaim our ancestral connection to land.

As co-director and farm manager, Penniman is part of a team that facilitates powerful food sovereignty programs—including farmer training for Black & Brown people, a subsidized farm food distribution program for communities living under food apartheid, and domestic and international organizing toward equity in the food system.

Penniman has been farming since 1996, holds an MA in Science Education and a BA in Environmental Science and International Development from Clark University, and is a Manye (Queen Mother) in Vodun. She trained at Many Hands Organic Farm and The Farm School in Massachusetts, and internationally with farmers in Ghana, Haiti, and Mexico. She also served as a high school biology and environmental science teacher for 17 years. The work of Penniman and Soul Fire Farm has been recognized by the Soros Racial Justice Fellowship, Fulbright Program, Pritzker Environmental Genius Award, Grist 50, and James Beard Leadership Award, among others. Her book, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land (2018) is a love song for the land and her people.

Sam Sifton Credit: Brendan McCarthySam Sifton

Sam Sifton is an assistant managing editor of The New York Times, overseeing the culture and lifestyle sections, the founding editor of NYT Cooking, and a columnist for The New York Times Magazine. He has also served as the national editor, the restaurant critic, and culture editor. Sifton is the author of The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes (2021), See You on Sunday: A Cookbook for Family and Friends (2020) and Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well: A Cookbook (2012).

Sifton graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College with an AB in History and Literature in 1988. He began his journalism career as assistant editor for American Heritage Magazine in 1988. From 1990 to 1994, he taught social studies in the New York City public school system. Sifton held a number of positions at the weekly New York Press during his tenure there from 1990 to 1998, including restaurant critic, contributing editor, senior editor, media critic and managing editor. Sifton was a founding editor of Talk (magazine) in 1998.

Ruth Credit: Michael Singer

Ruth Reichl

Ruth Reichl began writing about food in 1972, when she published Mmmmm: A Feastiary. She moved to Berkeley, California in 1973, and became co-owner and cook at The Swallow Restaurant. In 1978, she became restaurant critic for New West and California magazines, and went on to be the restaurant critic and food editor of the Los Angeles Times. From 1993-1999, she served as restaurant critic for The New York Times. In 1999, she moved to Gourmet Magazine, where she was Editor in Chief for ten years.

Reichl has authored five memoirs, Tender at the Bone (1998), Comfort Me with Apples (2001), Garlic and Sapphires (2005), For You, Mom. Finally. (2010), and Save Me the Plums, which was published in 2019. Her novel, Delicious! was published in 2014, and her cookbook, My Kitchen Year, 136 Recipes that Saved My Life in 2015. She edited Best American Food Writing 2018, and The Modern Library Food Series, which currently includes ten books. She was executive producer and host of the public television series, Adventures with Ruth, and a judge on Top Chef Masters. She is the recipient of six James Beard Awards. At the moment, she is working on a novel. Her most recent project is a documentary, with Laura Gabbert, director of City of Gold, about the many ways the current pandemic is altering the food landscape.

Christopher Kimball

Christopher Kimball

Christopher Kimball is founder of Milk Street, a food media company dedicated to traveling the world to meet home cooks who teach us bolder, easier ways to cook at home. Milk Street produces the bimonthly Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Magazine, as well as Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Radio, a weekly public radio show and podcast heard on over 230 stations nationwide. Kimball is also host of public television’s Emmy award winning Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Television.

Milk Street also offers online and in person culinary education including non-profit work with Big Brothers Big Sisters as well as Boys & Girls Clubs, and publishes cookbooks including the Milk Street: Tuesday Nights series, a James Beard award winner for Best General Cookbook. Milk Street also offers an online store that sources spices and ingredients from around the world, as well as kitchen tools and cookware. Kimball is also the author of Fannie’s Last Supper (2010), The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook (1998), The Cook’s Bible (1996), The Dessert Bible (2000), The Kitchen Detective (2003), and Dear Charlie (1999).

Chellie Pingree

Chellie Pingree ’79

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree ’79 represents Maine’s 1st District and is a national leader in food policy. She started her career as an organic farmer in the 1970s and has been engaged in food system reform ever since. In Congress, Pingree is an advocate for reforming federal policy to better support the diverse range of American agriculture—including sustainable, organic, and locally focused farming. As a member of the House Agriculture Committee and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, she continues to make food policy reform her top priority. Due to her leadership, the 2018 Farm Bill more than doubled funding for organic research, created the first federal produce prescription program, and established the first federal local food program with permanent funding.

In the 117th Congress, Pingree was named Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. She continues her focus on the intersection of climate change and agriculture with the reintroduction of the Agriculture Resilience Act on Earth Day 2021, comprehensive legislation highlighting opportunities for farmers to be an integral part of the climate solution. Pingree also serves on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies.

Amber Tamm

Amber Tamm (’17)

Amber Tamm (’17) is a young black woman whose life experiences weave together the interdisciplinary ways of working & healing with earth in full spectrum. The better part of her work experience has been agriculture, but in the last five years she has come to possess knowledge in cannabis, farm education, permaculture, tropical agriculture, agroforestry, urban farming, floral arrangements and lastly, the healing powers of the Earth.

Tamm’s work is to guide communities near and far, especially low income and communities of color, to not just connect with Earth, but showcase pathways for careers working with the Earth. It is her goal to make her peers aware that working with the Earth can be a career path, not just a hobby, while simultaneously providing healing for personal trauma. She shares her life with us as a testament to this statement; she shares her life with us proving that the Earth provides abundance.

Anochi Odinga II

Anochi Odinga II

Anochi Odinga II is a community chef hailing from the streets of Harlem, New York, and his mission is simple: to feed those who are hungry for free.

Odinga’s passion for food sprung up as a young child when he found himself in his grandmother’s kitchen. Years later, he got his start making gelato and sorbet, and from there he worked his way into some of the best kitchens across NYC, each kitchen layering on new skills. Odinga spent the summer of 2020 making thousands of meals for vigils, protests, and community gatherings to make sure his community was well fed while fighting for the justice they need. Now he finds himself all over NYC cooking in available restaurant spaces, and creating ready-made meals from any ingredients he can get his hands on. Odinga is rooted in applying his fine dining training to feed people who need it the most—this is where his skills and passion merge to uplift his community.


Saru Jayaraman

Saru Jayaraman is the president of One Fair Wage, co-founder of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United), and director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley.

After 9/11, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, she co-founded ROC United, which now has more than 30,000 worker members, 500 employer partners, and 23,000 consumer members in a dozen states nationwide. Jayaraman is a graduate of Yale Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was listed in CNN’s “Top 10 Visionary Women”, and recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House in 2014, and a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award in 2015.

In January 2018, she attended the Golden Globes as the guest of actor Amy Poehler, where she brought widespread attention to the issue of sexual harassment in the restaurant industry. Jayaraman was one of eight women activists who attended the Globes as part of the #TimesUp initiative. She authored Behind the Kitchen Door (2013), a national bestseller, and Forked: A New Standard for American Dining (2016). She has appeared on CNN with Soledad O’Brien, Bill Moyers Journal on PBS, Melissa Harris-Perry and UP with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, the Today Show, and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.

Susan Rockefeller

Susan Rockefeller

Susan Rockefeller is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, artist and conservationist. She is founder of Musings, a digital magazine that showcases responsible innovation and provides inspiration and action for a better world. Susan sits on the boards of Oceana, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, We are Family Foundation, Asian Cultural Council, Peggy McGrath Rockefeller Foundation, David Rockefeller Fund, Land and Garden Preserve, and is a Mission Board Member of Imagine. Susan is also Principal of Louverture Films, where she has exec- and co-produced over 20 acclaimed films, including Victor Kossakovsky’s Gunda and Aquarela; Nadine Labaki’s Capernaum; RaMell Ross’ Hale County This Morning, This Evening; and Yance Ford’s Strong Island; Sue’s own original films - including Bach Star Cafe, Food for Thought, Food for Life, Striking a Chord, Making the Crooked Straight, and Mission of Mermaids - have aired on HBO, PBS and Discovery. Susan is also a member of the Film Committee at MoMA, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

David Rockefeller, Jr.

David Rockefeller, Jr.

David Rockefeller, Jr., is a longstanding businessman and philanthropist. He has held many positions amongst Rockefeller-related entities, as well as in nonprofits that support the arts, education, and the environment.

Mr. Rockefeller is a trustee of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and previously served as a trustee and chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation. He was twice chairman of Rockefeller & Company, which became Rockefeller Capital Management in 2018, and where he now serves on the board of directors. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. As a passionate supporter of the arts, Mr. Rockefeller is a trustee of the Asian Cultural Council and a life trustee of the Museum of Modern Art. He is also a fellow of the Academy of Arts and Sciences.

True to his family’s legacy of land preservation, Mr. Rockefeller served as citizen chair of the National Parks Foundation from 1995–2005. In 2013, Mr. Rockefeller and two of his sisters established the Peggy McGrath Rockefeller Foundation, operating under the name “Stone House Grain.” Stone House Grain holds and manages 2,000 acres of farmland in Columbia County, New York, and is dedicated to promoting regenerative agriculture as well as to supporting young farmers.

Mr. Rockefeller’s commitment to environmental preservation and his passion for sailing led him to found the nonprofit organization, Sailors for the Sea (SfS), in 2004. In 2018 SfS joined forces with the global ocean conservation organization, Oceana, becoming one of its programs. Mr. Rockefeller has joined Oceana as a director where he promotes the organization’s campaign-driven work to sailors worldwide.

Cara Stadler

Cara Stadler

While Cara Stadler grew up making Shanghainese classics in a kitchen infused with ginger and shaoxing wine, her training is far more global. Beginning her career at 16, she worked at Café Rouge in Berkeley, followed by Striped Bass in Philadelphia, before heading to Paris to hone her fine dining skills. While in France, after staging at Guy Savoy, Cara worked at Gordon Ramsay Au Trianon Palace, his two-Michelin star restaurant in Versailles.

Stadler headed to Asia in 2008. After working briefly in Singapore at French-Japanese restaurant Saint Pierre and heading up Gourmet Underground in Beijing in 2009, she moved to Shanghai and began her long-standing relationship with one of China’s most esteemed restaurateurs, David Laris. Starting out as sous-chef of Laris—at the time, one of Asia’s fine-dining landmarks—Cara later launched David’s private dining restaurant, 12 Chairs, which has been hailed one of Asia’s best restaurants by The Miele Guide.

Stadler returned to the US in November 2011, eager to work with her mother to bring to Maine her unique twist of contemporary Asian fusion combined with the bounty of local flavors. After opening Tao Yuan, she has gone on to establish BaoBao Dumpling House, ZaoZe, and Canopy Farms.

Jonathan Webb

Jonathan Webb

Kentucky native and University of Kentucky graduate Jonathan Webb is turning his dream of a high-tech farming hub in Appalachia into reality with AppHarvest. The company is building some of the largest indoor farms in the world, combining conventional agricultural techniques with today’s technology to grow non-GMO, chemical pesticide-free produce. The company’s first indoor farm spans 60 acres and opened in 2020 in Morehead, Kentucky. The farm is the first of 12 the company plans to build by 2025.

Why locate in Appalachia? Like many Kentuckians, Webb grew up knowing of the devastating job losses in the region. His grandmother was raised in Whitley County, where a coal mining accident killed his great-grandfather. He strives to work alongside the hard-working men and women of Central Appalachia and build a resilient economy for the future.

In 2019, Endeavor selected Webb to join its worldwide entrepreneurship network focused on high-impact founders. To date, Endeavor has screened more than 60,000 individuals and selected just 2,100 founders leading more than 1,300 scale-up companies.

Before founding AppHarvest, Webb worked with the US Department of Defense on what was then the largest solar project in the Southeastern United States. The project aimed to help achieve a White House goal of ensuring the military receives 20% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

Frances Stead Sellers Credit: Jason Weil

Frances Stead Sellers

Frances Stead Sellers is a senior writer at the Washington Post and a frequent moderator for Washington Post Live.

She covered the 2016 presidential campaign and was a member of the team that produced the 2016 best seller Trump Revealed: The Definitive Biography of the 45th President. Since then, she has written about the country’s political and cultural polarization and the coronavirus pandemic.

Sellers has been a senior editor in charge of several sections of the Post, including the signature daily section Style, which focuses on political profiles, personalities, arts, and ideas.

Sellers holds a BA in Modern Languages from Oxford University and an MA in Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania, and is a sought-after commentator on American politics and culture for US and British radio and TV.

Philip Lader Credit: Robert Severi

Philip Lader

Philip Lader, former US Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s, was chairman of WPP plc, served in President Clinton’s Cabinet while Administrator of the US Small Business Administration, and was White House
Deputy Chief of Staff, Assistant to the President, and Deputy Director of the Office of Management & Budget. He is the former president of South Carolina and Australia universities and Sea Pines Company, as well as executive vice president of America’s then-largest private landowner. Now a senior adviser to Morgan Stanley Investment Banking and Palantir Technologies, trustee of RAND Corporation, and member of the boards of several foundations and privately-held companies, he has served on the boards of Lloyds of London, Marathon Oil, AMC Entertainment, Canary Wharf, AES, British Museum, American Red Cross, Smithsonian Museum of American History, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Atlantic Council, and several banks and universities.

Educated at Duke, Michigan, Oxford, and Harvard Law School, Lader is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, was president of Business Executives for National Security, and has been awarded honorary doctorates by 14 universities. He and his wife, Linda, a Presbyterian minister, co-founded and continue to host Renaissance Weekends, the non-partisan retreats for innovative leaders.

Maine Family Photography Credit: Audra Bayette 2013

Sarah Alexander

Sarah Alexander serves as the executive director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA). She has over 15 years of experience advocating for sustainable, local, and fair food systems. A native of rural Ohio, she attended Northwestern University, where she became interested in fixing our food systems, protecting the environment, and in fighting for the rights of Indigenous people. It was there that she began working with the White Earth Land Recovery project, first leading a trip of students to work in the Maple Sugar Bush during spring break.

After college, she completed a year-long environmental organizing fellowship with Green Corps, working on campaigns in New Orleans, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Chicago. When she completed that program, she moved up to the White Earth Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where she spent three years continuing her work with the White Earth Land Recovery Project, helping to restore traditional food systems and stopping the genetic engineering of wild rice. Next she headed to Columbus, Ohio, to work as a farm apprentice at Shepherd’s Corner Farm, and then helped to grow the urban agriculture program at the American Community Garden Association.

From there, Alexander went to Washington, DC, and spent nearly 10 years at Food & Water Watch, where she worked to protect organic standards, strengthen consumer labeling, and fight for genetically engineered food labeling. She moved to Maine in 2015, and just prior to starting as executive director at MOFGA, she worked as a senior strategist at M+R Strategic Services, coaching progressive nonprofits in their membership engagement and digital communications.

Will Thorndike

Will Thorndike

Will N. Thorndike founded Housatonic Partners in Boston in 1994, a leading middle market private equity firm with offices in Boston and San Francisco, and has been managing director since that time.

Thorndike is a graduate of Harvard College and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is a director of Carillon Assisted Living LLC, CONSOL Energy Inc (Chair, NYSE: CNX), Lincoln Peak Holding LLC, OASIS Group Ltd, QMC International LLC, and ZircoDATA. He is also a trustee of The Stanford Business School Trust, WGBH, and College of the Atlantic, as well as a founding partner at FARM, a social impact investing collaborative. He is the author of The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success (2012).


Anna Davis

Anna Davis

Anna Davis has been co-manager of COA’s Beech
Hill Farm since 2014. In addition to growing
certified organic vegetables for COA and the wider community, the farm serves as a living laboratory where COA students and faculty engage with agriculture as a central concern of human ecology. Davis works to provide educational opportunities to COA students and community members through supervising independent projects and the work-study program at the farm, as well as organizing class visits, workshops, and partnerships with
Share the Harvest and the MDI Food Access Project. Davis graduated from Hampshire College in 2011 with a degree in environmental sociology. After graduating, she spent time working as a community organizer in community gardens before moving back to Western Massachusetts to start farming. Davis farmed for two large-scale, organic CSA farms in the Pioneer Valley before coming to Beech Hill Farm.

Michael Boland

Michael Boland ’94

Michael Boland ’94 is currently the owner or co-owner of five restaurants in the State of Maine. He’s opened 20 restaurants in Portland, Bangor, Winter Harbor, and most of all, Bar Harbor over the last 28 years. In addition, he’s dabbled in other food-based businesses, including Acadia Coffee Company, a roaster focused on organic and fair trade beans, often from Chiapas, Mexico, where he, his wife, and daughters spent multiple winters.

A graduate of the College of the Atlantic and native of Philadelphia, Boland is currently serving as a trustee of COA, and is on the boards of the Maine Conservation Voters and the Beatrix Farrand Society, and was past President of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce for five years.

His restaurant Havana in Bar Harbor has hosted President Obama and the First Lady, and was recently named one of the “100 Restaurants in the USA We Can’t Afford to Lose” in Esquire magazine.

Darron Collins

Darron Collins ’92

Darron Collins is a 1992 graduate of College of
the Atlantic and, in July 2011, became the seventh president of COA, and the first alum to hold that position. Over the past 10 years, Collins has helped make COA one of the country’s most successful and innovative schools dedicated to the environment. Prior to coming back to COA, Collins enjoyed a decade managing international conservation projects at World Wildlife Fund (WWF). After four years of work in the Amazon Basin, he was asked to lead the organization’s strategic planning process. During the later half of his career at WWF, Darron served as managing director for the Amur-Heilong Ecoregion—an area the size of Alaska, encompassing parts of Russia, Mongolia, and China—and as senior advisor to the organization’s CEO.

Collins holds a PhD in anthropology from Tulane University. His doctoral research and academic work is based on the ethnobotany of the Q’eqchi’-Maya in northern Guatemala. He has also conducted investigative reporting of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, worked on leopard conservation on the Russia-North Korea border, and has written, produced, and directed the award-winning documentary, “Amur River Basin: Sanctuary for the Mighty Taimen.” As a COA student, he received both the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship—a competitive, national award given to outstanding student work in the sciences—and the coveted Watson Foundation Fellowship, funding a year of travel outside the United States.

Fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and Q’eqchi’-Maya, Collins has numerous publications to his name, both in scientific journals and popular media. A native of Morris Plains, New Jersey, he is an avid trail and ultra-runner, fly-fisherman, cyclist, hiker, and photographer/videographer. He is a Fellow National of the New York Explorers Club, and serves on the Science Advisory Committee of the Schoodic Institute. 

Kourtney Collum

Kourtney Collum

Dr. Kourtney Collum is the Partridge Chair in Food and Sustainable Agriculture Systems at College of the Atlantic where she teaches courses on the anthropology of food, food sovereignty and justice, food policy, and the millennia-long love affair between humans and bees.

She holds a PhD in Anthropology & Environmental Policy and an MS in Forest Resources from the University of Maine, Orono. She has conducted research with beekeepers, maple syrup producers, lowbush blueberry growers, and diversified farmers across Maine and Maritime Canada. Kourtney is a smitten mother, Master Gardener, beekeeper, and proud partner on the MDI Food Access Project.



Genio Bertin ’97

Genio Bertin ’97 is the owner of Mandala
Farm, a horse-powered organic farm in
Gouldsboro, Maine. Along with his wife, Sara Faull ’98, Bertin cultivates four acres of MOFGA-
certified organic vegetables and operates diverse livestock enterprises on the 100 acre property.
After graduating from College of the Atlantic, he
discovered the joys of farming with Norwegian
Fjord horses while working at the H.O.M.E.
Cooperative, a farm, homeless shelter, food
pantry, and arts collective in Orland, Maine.
Bertin is also the co-founder of Farm Tomorrow,
an organization dedicated to preserving, exchanging, promoting, and teaching rural
and traditional farming practices.




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