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Graduate student takes on climate change in Guatemala

By Courtney Robishaw
On April 8, 2012

  • A patron at Foster Family Farm in South Windsor broses their selection of pumpkins. NATALIA PYLYPYSZYN/The Daily Campus



Climate change is an issue that is affecting everyone around the world. In Guatemala, people who are not very well off and are living at high elevations have especially struggled with climate change.

Rachael Shenyo, a master's student in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, is making it her mission to study climate change in Guatemala and how people are reacting to it.

"What's happening in this fragile, mountainous environment is that the infrastructure is becoming completely overwhelmed," Shenyo said in a UConn Today story.

"We're finding that not only is the climate changing, it's changing with the altitude," she added. "This means that crops are affected in different ways and that growing conditions are dramatically different from farm to farm, depending on the latitude where it is located." 

Shenyo has been working with a government agency in Guatemala looking at 40 years of climate data. They have noticed that wind direction has changed. 

Shenyo is working with her advisor, Professor Boris Bravo-Ureta, a professor of agricultural economics at UConn, and has made multiple trips to Guatemala to research how Guatemalans view climate change and how they are altering their farming practices, according to a UConn Today story.

"Rachael is down to earth and she knows what she wants to do," said Bravo-Ureta. "She's someone who wants to be involved at the grass-roots level and she has an appreciation of her indigenous people in Guatemala. They may be poor but they're survivors and that 'can do' attitude appeals to her."

Shenyo first became involved with Guatemala when she was a Peace Corps volunteer there from 2002 to 2004. During this time, she provided veterinary service to local farmers, with her animal science undergraduate degree. During this time, she also started an initiative to help improve income from sheep production with a USDA grant. She worked on this for seven years before coming to UConn, according to a UConn Today story. 

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