Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Senay Yitbarek (2007)

Preserving Biological Diversity in Shaded Coffee Plantations

For his Stronach project, Senay worked with small farmers in the Pontal do Paranapanemea region of Brazil, west of Sao Paulo, helping them to benefit from environmentally sound practices, thus strengthening efforts to preserve biologically diverse Brazilian forest fragments. Using his Portuguese language skills and cultural knowledge, Senay enhanced joint Movimento dos Tabalhadores Sem Terra (MST) and Institute for Ecological Research (IPE) efforts to preserve biologically diverse forest fragments. by creating an environmental education center and an environmental education curriculum that provided information about the benefits of ecological practices. In addition, Senay hosted exchanges about forestry practices between small farmers and state and interstate groups and organized seed collection workshops. Senays project helped to increase the number of farmers who dedicate land to agro-forestry buffer zones

Letters Home


As a Development Studies major, Senay studied agricultural ecology and rural development in Latin America. His courses offered him the theoretical framework to incorporate his interests in ecological management, biodiversity, and food security within rural communities. While an undergraduate, Senay traveled to Brazil to examine agro-ecological practices firsthand. In addition, he interned at IPE, visiting farmers landholdings, participating in environmental workshops, and studying agro-forestry practices. Senay is pursuing a Masters degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Michigan.

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