She’s a Maine native who is trying to save much of the Island’s shellfish population. He’s a Vineyard high school student with a passion for sustainability.
From shell recyclers to waste-management aficionados, seven Vineyarders have been named recipients of prestigious Island fellowships, receiving funding for individual educational and professional endeavors. But the entire Island will also benefit from the awards, with the fellows pledging to use their knowledge and experience to better Island sustainability.
Named the Vision fellowship, the award was established in 2006 by the Kohlberg family’s Philip Evans Scholarship Foundation, goes to individuals who “demonstrate a commitment to the Island and to the ideals of sustainability.” The recipients must be residents of Martha’s Vineyard and demonstrate a commitment to remain on or return to Martha’s Vineyard after the fellowship ends.
Jerome and Nancy Kohlberg own The Vineyard Gazette.
The foundation received a record number of high-quality applications this year, and the winners “show the most promise for short-and long-term impact in areas that are a high priority for the program,” according to the foundation. Fellowship recipients work with on-Island mentors.
This year’s fellowship recipients, announced last week, include two high schoolers who plan use their passion for waste management and farming for the good of the Vineyard.
For high school senior Antone Lima, 17, the fellowship will fund his education at the University of New Hampshire, where he plans to study environmental engineering — and experience a place that feels like home, he said, without having to worry about boat schedules.
But in the future, he plans to come back to the Island. “I was born and raised here — I’ve always felt the need to come back,” he said.
The Island is already benefitting from his interest in sustainability: For his senior project, Antone has been working with South Mountain Company to recycle waste such as windows, doors and wood. And after his four years off at school, he plans to come back to the Vineyard to address what he calls “the waste problem here on the Island.”
“We spend so much money getting rid of it and we spend so much money on energy,” he said. His plan is to solve both problems and look at how to convert waste to energy using methane digesters and incinerators that can produce energy.
Antone, an Oak Bluffs resident, said he’s “always been a math and science kind of guy,” interested in where things come from and how they work.
The fellowship “took a lot of pressure off,” Antone said: the scholarship will allow him to go to the school and come back to the Island without worrying about paying off college loans.
Classmate Emma HallBilsback’s fellowship centers on her love of farming, a passion that she said started in the second grade with a visit to the FARM Institute. Now a high school senior, she still works on the farm: she was there Thursday, helping with chores and looking forward to baby pigs and chickens.
“I just fell in love,” she said of her first visit to the Institute.
When she got the phone call that she received the fellowship, she said, “I was speechless.” She then called her mom at work, “and burst into tears.”
The Vision Fellowship will take Emma far beyond the Vineyard to learn about farming: first to New Zealand for a gap year, where she’ll stay from November through April to work on a sheep and cattle ranch during lambing and calving season and learn about farming and sustainability. After that, it’s on to Hampshire College, where she plans to study sustainable agriculture management and political science.
After her time in New Zealand, she said, she’ll bring her newfound knowledge back to the Island, working on compost and waste management techniques with the Farm Institute, and focusing on making the farm more tourist friendly.
“Food is something that’s never going out of style,” she said. “Everybody has to have farmers in their lives.”
“It’s so much fun.”
Other fellowships will go toward those affiliated with Vineyard organizations. Camron Adibi, who serves on Tisbury’s wastewater planning committee, will use his fellowship to further his professional training in water quality analysis, stormwater management systems and wastewater systems, working with Tisbury Waterways, Inc., and the Department of Public Works.
The Vision Fellowship will allow Kristen Fauteux, the director of stewardship for the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, to pursue a Master of Science degree in resource management and conservation at Antioch University New England, while Zoe Turcotte’s fellowship will lead to a master of education program at Lesley University. A Felix Neck Sanctuary employee, Ms. Turcotte plans to work on environmental education efforts at the sanctuary, including establishing a Sustainability Club for middle and high school students, with participation from conservation groups.
“I’m very excited because I feel like a program like this could be very beneficial,” Ms. Turcotte said. “The interest is there.”
Fellowship recipient Phillipe Jordi, executive director of the nonprofit Island Housing Trust, will apply to a professional training program offered through the Harvard Kennedy School of Government that explores issues facing community development organizations.
Jessie Kanozak, originally from Maine, received a fellowship for her shell recycling project, which aims to keep the Island’s abundant shell refuse on the Vineyard, and ultimately back into Vineyard waters. Ms. Kanozak worked with the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group to launch the Shellfish Recovery Project last year.
Shell recycling helps reduce bulk waste from the Vineyard’s waste stream, she said, which is transported off-Island. The recycling program “winterizes the shells” over one season to prevent cross-contamination from pathogens (some shells are from other parts of the country). They are then returned to the water as a source of calcium carbonate, which new shellfish require to grow and also reduce the negative effects of water acidification.
The award “really lets us grow the project and really expand it,” Ms. Kanozak said. “Without the fellowship I feel like the project would have grown stale.” She added that through the fellowship, she can look at shell recycling programs in other areas for ideas.
The program thus far has focused on down-Island restaurants, she said, and was limited to what she could do on her own. But she underestimated the production of shell from residents, she said.
“People go shellfishing . . . and they’re really eager to help.”
Working with the Shellfish Group, refuse districts, and Bruno’s trash service, her goal is to create several drop-off centers, either at refuse centers or private properties, where Islanders can recycle shells along with glass, plastic, and other refuse.
“With the help of the fellowship, we’ll make the shell recycling an Island-wide program,” she said, “and also expand it to the community, to residents and fishermen.”