MTSU senior awarded 2023 Scholars for Conservation Leadership Program fellowship

The Land Trust Alliance is proud to announce that Yaseen Ginnab, a senior at Middle Tennessee State University, has been selected to participate in a paid, yearlong fellowship with a land trust to gain on-the-job experience following graduation.

By Corey Himrod December 14, 2022

[The Land Trust Alliance is looking for the next land trust to host our 2022 Scholars for Conservation Leadership fellow! The one-year fellowship period will begin in summer 2023 and give the fellow an opportunity to gain on-the-job experience in natural resource management and conservation. Interested in hosting? Learn more and apply!]

The Land Trust Alliance is proud to announce that Yaseen Ginnab, a senior at Middle Tennessee State University, has been selected to participate in a paid, yearlong fellowship with a land trust to gain on-the-job experience following graduation.

The Scholars for Conservation Leadership Program is a career and leadership development program launched by the Land Trust Alliance and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Cooperative Forestry. The program brings together undergraduate college students from across the country for a professional development experience in conjunction with Rally: The National Land Conservation Conference.

Following Rally, one student is selected for the yearlong fellowship with a land trust. The program aims to expand opportunities for students to pursue careers in natural resource management and conservation, with an emphasis on reaching students of underrepresented and minority backgrounds in these sectors.

This year, eight undergraduate students attended Rally, held Sept. 15-17 in New Orleans, Louisiana, where they participated in several educational workshops and a one-day seminar. Throughout Rally the students had the opportunity to connect with professionals from across the nation. Additionally, each scholar was partnered with a mentor during the conference.

Ginnab, this year’s fellowship recipient, is currently majoring in biology and psychology at MTSU. During his time on campus, Ginnab has assisted in multiple research projects and conducted two independent project internships: the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program and the Fulbright Canada Mitacs Globalink program.

For his Fulbright, Ginnab spent three months in Nova Scotia researching “the fruiting patterns of the red-belted polypore, an essential fungus that decays dead wood in forests,” he explained in a recent interview with fellow student Maddy Williams for MTSU Sidelines. Ginnab also noted his work this summer on Lake Michigan, where he conducted research into “whether the lake’s bacterial communities can degrade polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, complex molecules found in crude oil.”

This semester, Ginnab is working on an honor’s undergraduate thesis about “whether the at-risk species Tennessee milk vetch can accumulate selenium, a toxic metalloid, like many other plants in the same genus,” and has also performed research into pollinator behavior and methylmercury contamination. The commonality between these projects, as Ginnab sees it, is conservation and biodiversity.

“It was probably a combination of experiences from the past three years that got me more interested in environmental biology,” Ginnab told Sidelines. “I grew to love the outdoors and unique organisms in nature, so when I realized I could get paid to spend time in nature, it felt like the perfect career field for me.”

But it was his time at Rally that opened Ginnab ‘s eyes to opportunities beyond field research.

“For a while, I’ve been planning to get into a career focused on research either at a government organization like the Forest Service or National Wildlife Federation, or at an independent research station such as the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory,” he told Sidelines. “My other main plan was to become a professor. Now that I know about the Land Trust Alliance, I’ve seen a completely different career field where I could still be in the outdoors and work on conservation, while not needing to do research or teach.”

The 2022 fellowship awardee, Nina Jeffries, is currently undertaking her fellowship with Western Reserve Land Conservancy in Ohio. Jeffries graduated with a degree in environmental science and policy from the University of Maryland with a concentration in environmental economics. As a student, she completed internships with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, Environmental Law Institute, Our Children’s Trust and the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice. She served as the sustainability director for the University of Maryland Student Government Association and as chapter secretary for Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences.

Expect to hear more about Jeffries and her experiences in the coming weeks!


You can read Ginnab’s full interview with MTSU Sidelines here.