Kristin Benson

MPS Class of 2023, Global Development

Grand challenge: Food security and sustainable food systems that empower farmers and improve livelihoods

Connectkgb49 [at] (kgb49[at]cornell[dot]edu)

Kristin is passionate about farmer protection and empowerment, namely through education and empowerment. Growing up on a family dairy farm in Maine, Kristin discovered early on that life can be hard on farmers. She often found herself living in the tension between the environmentalist movement and the farming community. Having spent time in Mexico and Guatemala, she watched as farmers struggled to deal with the consequences of poor agricultural methods. Kristin believes that education alone is not enough to help farmers make changes — they must also be empowered and protected to take the social and economic risks of making change. After getting a degree in Environmental Science, working with Cooperative Extension, and managing a small vegetable farm using regenerative methods, Kristin decided to go back to school. She is hoping to better identify the optimal methods of empowering rural communities to shift to more sustainable farming methods. Her hope is that through farmer-centered education, farmers in developing nations can eliminate pollution and sickness caused by unsustainable farming methods, improve farm productivity, and ultimately improve the livelihood of farmers and their communities.