Transatlantic graduates tackle Scotland’s net zero goals

Three American graduates have collectively put more than 10,000 miles between themselves and their hometowns to work at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

Kaia Waxenberg, Brady Stevens and Alexa Green have gone from studying for an MSc in Environmental Protection and Management at SRUC to working within the organisation.

Despite growing up in New York City with no connections to farming, Kaia is assisting with agricultural greenhouse gas emissions research at SAC Consulting, focusing on the scientific development of the Agrecalc carbon footprinting tool.

Brady, from Buffalo in New York State, is also working at SAC Consulting as a Rural Business and Economics Consultantand Alex, from Miami, is a Research Assistant at the Rural Policy Centre.

New York City girl

Kaia said: “I’m from New York City, so you can probably imagine my early encounters with farming were pretty limited. I originally became interested in issues of conservation and sustainability as a teenager, working in volunteer and internship roles throughout Manhattan.

“I then moved to the UK to pursue an undergraduate degree in conservation but ended up specialising in plant sciences after becoming increasingly interested in food sustainability.

“My new role is a great opportunity to apply my modelling and data analysis skills to practical farm management and consulting. I’m so excited to help deliver evidence-based mitigation solutions to farmers across the UK.”

Living across the road from his uncle’s 2000-cow dairy farm, Brady grew up with a knowledge of the agricultural industry. He fell in love with Scotland after cycling across the Highlands during his teaching fellowship in London and applied to do a Masters degree at SRUC.

“I was drawn to the practicality of the degrees offered and the opportunity to get out in the field and be close to agriculture,” he said. “I was also inspired by the research/education/consulting model – the win-win-wins made sense to me.

“My first three months at SAC Consulting have been intense and exciting. Given the pace and scale of changes required to meet Scotland’s climate and environment goals, there is tons of work to be done, and I feel I have been able to jump into the middle of it and make meaningful contributions already.

“The time is flying as the work is varied and engaging. I am loving it.”

Mangroves and wetlands

Growing up in Miami, Alexa developed an appreciation for the environment and particularly marine and peatland areas such as mangroves and wetlands.

After studying Psychology and Sustainability Studies, she worked for a non-profit organisation focusing on improving recycling systems through behaviour change.

As a research assistant with the Rural Policy Centre, Alexa works on a variety of research and knowledge exchange opportunities.

“I chose the Masters programme at SRUC because I wanted to obtain a more concrete understanding of climate science and policy and improve my research and analysis skills,” she said.

“I am excited to continue to develop my skills and work with the amazing team at SRUC to inform wider policy and help Scotland reach net zero by 2045.”


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About The Author

John Swire - Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.