Russell Brinsfield Internship: Meet the 2023 Interns

From left: Olivia Scuderi, Beverly Bolster, and Marisa Koontz. Photo Courtesy of Russel Brinsfield Internship Program.

(From left: Olivia Scuderi, Beverly Bolster, and Marisa Koontz. Photo Courtesy of Russell Brinsfield Internship Program.)

Published on College of Agriculture & Natural Resources website

The Russ Brinsfield Internship Program is a collaboration between the Hughes Center and the University of Maryland Agriculture Law Education Initiative. The internship program, which began in 2017, engages an undergraduate student from the University of Maryland College of AGNR and a law student enrolled at the Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, who work together to develop viable solutions to a variety of complex environmental, agricultural and forestry-related issues.

2023 Brinsfield Interns

Together with the UMD Agriculture Law Education Intiative, the Hughes Center is pleased to welcome three interns to the Russell Brinsfield Internship Program. Founded in 2017, the Brinsfield Internship Program engages law students from the Francis King Carey School of Law at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP).  

Named in honor of the late Dr. Russell Brinsfield, who was a leader in agricultural science at the University of Maryland and co-founder of the Hughes Center, the program invites students to work together to develop viable solutions to a variety of complex environmental, agricultural and forestry-related issues. The 2023 interns are Marisa Koontz, Beverly Bolster and Olivia Scuderi.  

Marisa Koontz is a rising second-year law student at the Carey School of Law at UMB, where she is pursuing her law degree alongside a Master of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School. Her interests lie in the areas of food, agriculture and environmental law, and their implications for public health. Prior to entering law school, Koontz served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kosovo and worked as the Home Delivery Coordinator for a local food pantry in her home state of Iowa. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and roller skating. 

“As a law student, the Brinsfield Internship has exposed me to many areas where legal research can be used to improve agriculture and food systems. The projects I’ve been working on tackle a range of agriculture and food issues, such as expanding SNAP access for consumers and farmers, land access issues for Maryland’s aquaculture industry, promotion of urban agriculture, and much more,” Koontz said. “This internship has exposed me to the many wonderful and dedicated people working throughout Maryland to tackle some of the most pressing challenges regarding agriculture, food access, nutrition, and climate change, and I’m feeling so grateful to be inspired by their work every day of this internship.”

Beverly Bolster is an undergraduate student studying Geospatial Data Science and Sociology at UMCP. She is passionate about understanding how people interact with their environment, and promoting environmental health and food security.  Outside of classes and student organizations, Bolster enjoys reading, baking, running and hiking. 

“I am enjoying my time as a Brinsfield intern and have learned so much already. My favorite projects so far are researching agrivoltaics, which is the co-location of solar panels and agriculture on the same land (something I did not even know existed before starting this project), as well as another project in which we are researching how farmers in each county can engage in urban agriculture,” Bolster said. “I look forward to continuing research this summer to assist urban farmers, promote food security, and encourage sustainable agriculture practices in Maryland.”

Olivia Scuderi is a junior at UMCP, studying Animal Science with a minor in Science, Technology, Ethics, and Policy. She aspires to be involved with the growing field of agricultural research policy and hopes to one day take over her family’s farm in Montgomery County, Maryland. Olivia was the winner of the 2022 Maryland Farm Bureau Collegiate Discussion Meet and is the School of Agriculture and National Resources Student Council President. 

“As a Brinsfield intern, I am researching current agricultural issues throughout the state with emphasis on nutritional assistance programs, urban agriculture, and the new and upcoming discoveries surrounding agrivoltaics. So far, I have been diving into the various perspectives on solar and getting a better grasp on the challenges in implementing this technology on productive farmland along with evaluating potential urban ag spaces on the Eastern Shore,” Scuderi said. “It feels good to know that my projects are benefiting the agricultural community and I cannot wait to see what work our team produces.”

The Brinsfield Internship Program is supported with funding from the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State (MPower).  A collaboration between the State of Maryland’s two most powerful public research institutions: UMB and UMCP, MPower seeks to strengthen and serve the State of Maryland and its citizens.