Students & Alumni

​​​​2016 Environmental Mission Scholars

​​​​Ben Civiletti, JD '19

Hometown: Durham, ME

​Professional Mission: To move Vermont and the world closer to a sustainable energy future. 

What environmental experience did you have before coming to Vermont Law School?​

I completed my B.S. in Wildlife Biology, and began to explore environmental policy through coursework along the way. I focused on climate and energy issues after college, and worked as an AmeriCorps member for the Vermont Natural Resources Council, coordinating the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network. In that role, I collaborated with statewide organizations and local groups across Vermont to implement renewable energy systems and energy efficient solutions for communities. ​

 

Why did you choose Vermont Law School?

In my AmeriCorps position, I consistently ran into the work of the VLS Environmental Law Center. I met inspiring alumni, found helpful research, and saw the effects of student advocacy in state policy discussions. In particular, the innovative projects of the Energy Clinic motivated me to learn more about VLS programs. Once I discovered the opportunities on and off campus, I knew VLS was the school for me.  ​​

 

What are your career goals? What is your dream job?

I hope to move energy policy forward in ways that support our environment and economy. I believe that the transition to clean energy is imperative for the health of our planet and its inhabitants, and that a strong economic future requires decoupling from fossil fuels. My dream job might be an energy policy director for an agency, advocacy group or a progressive utility – or perhaps something I haven’t discovered yet! 

 

Katherine Klaus JD '19

Hometown: Aurora, IL

​Professional Mission: To change the trajectory of society towards a more equitable, more sustainable future.

 

What environmental experience did you have before coming to Vermont Law School?​

My undergraduate career was centered on sustainability. I majored in environmental science and took classes ranging from environmental law to organic chemistry. I also wrote and edited articles for a student-run environmental magazine, providing news on local issues to the community. Additionally, I had several research-based internships and worked as the Sustainability Coordinator for a non-profit organization. 

 

Why did you choose Vermont Law School?

I chose VLS for our strong environmental law program, tight-knit community, and unique access to local government. 

 

What are your career goals? What is your dream job?

I intend to protect water resources from contamination and depletion. My dream job would merge water law with environmental justice. After working in the field, I hope to transition to academics and become a law professor.​

 

Nico Lustig, JD MFALP '19 Social Justice Mission Scholar

 

Hometown: Shelburne Falls, MA

​Professional Mission: To create and support healthy communities where citizens have the tools and resources to develop thriving local economies with access to good jobs, sustainable homes, and nourishing food.

 

What environmental experience did you have before coming to Vermont Law School?​​

 

Before starting at Vermont Law School in August 2016, I worked as the Food Business Development Specialist at theFranklin County Community Development Corporation, FCCDC, in Western Massachusetts.  In this role, I helped many New England farmers and start-up entrepreneurs develop and grow sustainable food businesses. I participated as a working group leader for the State of Massachusetts' Local Food Action Plan; Co-chaired the Franklin County Food Council; and coordinated the New England Food Processors Community of Practice through theFarm to Institution New England (FINE) network.  For 12 years before working for the FCCDC, I managed two regional Natural Foods Cooperative Markets – The Blue Hill Food Co-op in Maine and The Franklin Community Co-operative in Western Massachusetts. 

 

In the early aughts, I studied abroad in Khon Kaen, Thailand for two years researching the effect of development and globalization on the environment and agricultural communities. While in Thailand, I studied with farmers who were who were creating alternative business models and currencies to restructure the economy of their local community. As a method of amplifying the voice of these farmers, I worked with fellow students to found the Educational Network for Global and Grassroots Exchange (ENGAGE) a robust non-profit that is still thriving today.

 

Why did you choose Vermont Law School?

I chose to attend law school to strengthen skills for my mission to create and support healthy communities where citizens have the tools and resources to develop thriving local economies with access to good jobs, sustainable homes, and nourishing food. In addition to being a student and Social Justice Mission Scholar, I am on the Board of Directors for Red Tomato, an ambitious New England non-profit that works to deliver fresh, great tasting produce while cultivating a more sustainable, ethical food system. 

 

What are your career goals? What is your dream job?

Beyond the primary focus on food, I am currently working with the school administration and Health Connections of the Upper Valley, Inc. on a campaign to transition VLS into a smoke-free campus – promoting healthy communities from all aspects.​

 

Margaret Shugart, JD MFALP '19

Hometown: Austin, TX

Professional Mission: To use the power of law to affect change in causes I hold dearly, specifically environmental protection and sustainable food systems. I would like to feel my efforts have the potential to make a meaningful difference.

What environmental experience did you have before coming to Vermont Law School?​

As an undergraduate, I participated in a study abroad program in Madagascar where I studied the World Wildlife Fund and its use of religion in its conservation strategies. That experience inspired a deep interest in sustainability on an international scope. For my Masters thesis, I studied the return to organic and traditional rice farming in Bali, conducting ethnographic research in Indonesia looking at how different modes of agriculture affect diet and, even as I surprise to myself, became an advocate for insect eating as a sensible protein resource for the planet. Then, at home, I have become passionately involved in a fight against a high-pressure gas pipeline going through my parent's town in the pristine region of Big Bend Texas. I now serve on the executive board of the Big Bend Conservation Alliance and am committed to helping the region protect its precious culture and resources.​

 

Why did you choose Vermont Law School?

I was hooked from the moment I picked up the promotional materials at a law school fair. Every word in the VLS doctrine spoke to why I wanted to attend law school and what I hoped to do with the degree. Words like Power, Advocacy, Public Service, Impact, Strong Moral Code, Community, and David vs Goliath jumped from the page. I cannot remember how many times I read those catalogs and am very happy to see after arriving that those intentions are manifested genuinely at the school. Also the specificity of the curriculum for environmental focus, and a chance to specifically work with food and agricultural law made for an easy decision to attend.

 

What are your career goals? What is your dream job?

I am leaving this category open to change with exposure to different classes and ideas, but right now I would like to work in a job that incorporates travel and that considers cultural diversity and global perspectives for food and agriculture.