August 16, 2021
Five law students joined the team at Vermont Law School's Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) as Honors Interns this summer. Offered annually, CAFS's competitive paid internship program draws law students from across the country to work alongside the team and their partner organizations on law and policy projects. From protecting communities from the harmful impacts of CAFOs and industrial agriculture, to assisting farmers with cooperative land access, to tackling food justice issues in prisons, the team took on challenging, impactful work that spanned the food system. Below, learn more about the Honors Interns and what they worked on.
Clockwise, from top left:
A current 2L at Vermont Law School, Amanda di Dio is interested in exploring the intersection between agricultural law and natural resources. Witnessing increased wildfires and drought while growing up in the agricultural state of Idaho, Amanda saw firsthand the effects of climate destabilization. She believes her purpose is to help foster a cultural transaction to more sustainable living and production methods. Amanda loves to travel, garden, and needs no excuse to get outdoors. This summer, she worked with CAFS fellow Cydnee Bence and the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project on evaluating state and local policies that encourage or prevent communities' abilities to protect themselves from harmful CAFOs and industrial agriculture. "It was an incredible experience to work on a project that has actual impact," she said.
Katie Moreland is a student at the University of Oregon School of Law, where she is pursuing a concurrent J.D. and a master's degree in Conflict & Dispute Resolution. Her focus is on environmental law and conflict, and she hopes to advocate for underrepresented communities in environmental issues. She's also interested in community ownership and community land access, which made her the perfect fit for a summer project working alongside CAFS senior attorney Fran Miller and the nonprofit Agrarian Trust. Moreland worked on a project related to equitable land access for BIPOC communities. In particular, she supported one community looking to build affordable, eco-friendly housing in compliance with local zoning codes.
Sierra Tillery is a rising 3L at the University of Oregon School of Law. She is passionate about the law and policy surrounding nutrition and public health. In her free time, she loves to garden, play with her dog, and hike with her husband. This summer, she worked alongside Vermont Law School professor Jonathan Rosenbloom on the Sustainable Development Code. Researching and drafting an introduction to the Food Security and Sovereignty section of the code, she helped develop a resource for communities who want to shape their zoning codes to bolster access to healthy foods.
A rising 2L at the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, Rebecca Bermudez is interested in food and immigration law. She received her B.A. in Latinx Studies from William & Mary, and has worked in both the legal and food/beverage service industries. In her spare time, she loves to volunteer, write, bake, and travel with friends and family. Bermudez worked on two projects at CAFS during her internship. Alongside Farm to Institution New England, she researched how state constitutional law has shaped the rights of incarcerated people as related to food as a condition of confinement. She also worked with CAFS director Laurie Beyranevand, associate director Lihlani Nelson, and the HEAL Food Alliance, researching federal regulations that protect (or fail to protect) meatpacking workers. Her findings will help inform a new bill that will soon be introduced to Congress.
Jackie Cuellar is a rising 2L at the University of Minnesota Law School who is passionate about promoting health equity and creating a just food system through policy change. Originally from Minneapolis, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of California-Berkeley. She joined CAFS to continue exploring her interests in food justice, agriculture, and farmworker health through a legal lens, and spent the summer working alongside CAFS faculty Emily Spiegel and Fran Miller, as well as a consortium of law schools, on the Farm Bill Law Enterprise. Researching heirs' property and Black farmland loss, she focused on how policymakers can best incorporate equity considerations into the next Farm Bill.
Thank you to all the interns for an amazing summer!