Home » September 2023 Quarterly Update

September 2023 Quarterly Update



Image of UM Scholars Emily Hutter and Joseph Frengel with mentor Paul Goeringer walking on the Wye Research and Education Center. Image by Matthew “Dag” D’Agostino



2023 Annual Agricultural and Environmental Law Conference

Image of 2022 ALEI Conference. Image by Edwin Remsberg.

Struggling to stay updated on the latest in agricultural and environmental regulations? Look no further!  The Agricultural and Environmental Law Conference (AELC), proudly presented by the Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI), is a one-of-a-kind occasion that unites professionals from Maryland’s agriculture, conservation, and legal sectors. Mark your calendars for November 16th, as the event unfolds from 8 AM to 3 PM at the prestigious Crowne Plaza Hotel in Annapolis, MD. Registration is now open.

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Noteworthy news – continuing this year, you can choose to participate either in person or via live stream, providing you with flexibility. This conference offers just that for those seeking to earn continuing nutrient management education credits. And here’s the cherry on top: students can register for free! Don’t miss out! The AELC is an opportunity for networking, educational growth, and discussing the intricacies of environmental law and agriculture. The conference will begin with a look at preparing for a disease outbreak on a poultry operation, PFAS, and a 2023 legal overview of the decisions that will impact agriculture. Sessions are being finalized, and you can look here for an updated agenda.

Registration for the AELC is open, and the ALEI conference is a great investment to learn more about current issues impacting agriculture and the environment. Anyone with questions or in need of more information may email umaglaw@umd.edu. 


ALEI Honored As National Finalist by National Association of County Ag Agents

Image of ALEI team in 2022 at the Wye Research and Education Center. Image by Edwin Remsberg. Back Row: (L to R) Megan Todd, UMB; Sarah Everhart, formerly of UMB; Paul Goeringer, UMCP; Dr. Darren Jarboe, UMCP; and Dr. Jurgen Schwarz, UMES.  Front Row (L to R): Elizabeth Thilmany, UMCP; Ryan Zimmerman, formerly of UMCP; and Nicole Cook, UMES.

By: Paul Goeringer

ALEI’s Annual Agricultural and Environmental Law Conference was recently honored as a National Finalist in the Search For Excellence in Farm and Ranch Management by the National Association of County Ag Agents (NACAA) during the 108th Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference held in Des Moines, Iowa, from August 13 to 17, 2023. NACAA is the professional association for Extension educators and other professionals who work in agriculture, horticulture, forestry and natural resources, 4-H youth development, community development, administration, aquaculture and Sea Grant, and other related disciplines.

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The Search for Excellence award recognizes NACAA members who have developed and carried out an outstanding extension educational program in farm and ranch financial management. The reviewers were impressed by the diversity in topics often presented at the conference and how individuals may come for one particular subject and be exposed to other topics. The team is honored with this award for our annual signature event.

Also at the conference, Meghana Kotraiah, Ryan Zimmerman, Elizabeth Thilmany, and Paul Goeringer were honored as National Finalists for the event promotion package for the So You Want to Own Farmland In Maryland workshops. This communication award by NACAA highlights excellence in communicating and promoting programs by Extension faculty to their clientele. This promotion of programs would include traditional methods, flyers, and press releases to digital outlets, such as social media images, promotional videos, and online ads. The program team was honored to receive this award.


Thilmany’s Extension Project Wins Award from the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association

Solar field collage with images of Elizabeth presenting, working, and the award plaque she won.
A collage of images created by Elizabeth Thilmany that is related to Thilmany’s solar work overtop an image of solar panels used under license from Shutterstock.com. The images layer on top, from left to right, include Thilmany working on her laptop by Edwin Remsber; the plaque Thilmany was awarded from AAEA taken by Thilmany; Thilmany presenting her work at AAEA taken by Paul Goeringer.

By: Elizabeth Thilmany

Elizabeth Thilmany, a Faculty Specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and member of ALEI, won first place in the 2023 Extension Competition at the Annual Agricultural & Applied Economics Association in Washington, D.C., in late July. Her winning project, “Encouraging Mid-Atlantic Producer Autonomy in Land Use Decision-Making through Peer Learning Initiatives,” stood out for its practical approach to addressing the needs of the agricultural industry.


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Thilmany’s project focuses on bridging the gap between utility-scale solar development and the ever-changing landscape of land use choices that Maryland’s agricultural community faces. “The motive of this project is to evaluate opportunities to balance renewable energy development with Maryland’s number one industry, agriculture,” says Thilmany. Regarding the project’s future, Thilmany states, “These sessions will underscore the significance of making well-informed choices to ensure sustainable and productive land use practices in Maryland.” She hopes “future attendees will gain the confidence to assess the viability, benefits, and considerations of renewable energy projects within their agricultural operations by gaining access to additional resources and connections with other land owners in the state.”

Lastly, Thilmany wants to recognize and thank Olivia Knott for her work this summer, “I am grateful to everyone who helped me with this project, especially my research assistant, Olivia Knott. Knott’s work in synthesizing information from legal and environmental documents was invaluable. She also helped make extension presentation materials for the upcoming outreach.”

Laurie Wolinski, the Director of the Northeast Risk Management Education Center, recognizes the importance of Thilmany’s work, stating, “Elizabeth has hit the ground running with this project. This is an important educational program for the producers in Maryland.”

For landowners interested in participating in this project’s future programming, please get in touch with Elizabeth Thilmany at thilmany@umd.edu or fill out the form at this link.

This work is funded by the Northeast Risk Management Center and is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2021-70027-34693.



ALEI Russell Brinsfield Interns Research Presentation Available

By: Megan Todd

In partnership with the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agroecology, the Agriculture Law Education Initiative welcomed three interns for the 7th year of the Russell Brinsfield summer internship. The Brinsfield internship program is supported with funding from the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State (MPower) is a collaboration between the state of Maryland’s two most powerful public research engines: the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) — to strengthen and serve the state of Maryland and its citizens.

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The interns tackled an impressive number of research projects during their 8-week internship. From agrivoltaics to local policies impacting urban agriculture to supplemental nutrition benefits and more, the interns delved into topics across the spectrum of food system supply chain issues. You can watch their presentation, where they share their research and experience online at:


ALEI and Maryland Sea Grant Welcome the Newest Legal Policy Fellow

Image of Kai Hardy sitting on rocks by water near a lighthouse.

By Nicole Cook and Kai Hardy

It’s September, which means that Maryland Sea Grant (MDSG) and ALEI welcomed our 2023-2024 Legal Policy Fellow, Kai Hardy! Kai is our third Legal Policy Fellow. We were once again delighted to see that the fellowship attracted a stellar group of young attorneys eager to dive into the legal and policy challenges facing Maryland’s coastal communities.

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Kai is originally from Illinois. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. During his undergraduate studies, Kai concentrated in Human Dimensions of the Environment, which focused on, among other things, engaging diverse stakeholders when making environmental policy decisions and analyzing and critiquing environmental laws and policies through an environmental justice lens.

Kai graduated Magna Cum Laude from Vermont Law School in May with his JD. He served as the Environmental Justice Managing Editor for the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law during law school. Kai said he was interested in this fellowship because he was “aware of the environmental, social, and economic significance of the Chesapeake Bay.” And, in just the short time he’s been in Maryland, he can already “see how rooted the Bay is in the cultural identity of Marylanders, and the degree to which it brings people together regardless of race, gender, income, political affiliation, or socioeconomic status.” Kai says it’s “encouraging to see how communities come together and unite around the Bay’s conservation, and want to contribute to its health and restoration.” That unity motivates him to use his legal education and experience to help stakeholders who use and enjoy the Bay better understand the impact of environmental laws and policies.

The Maryland Sea Grant/ALEI Legal Policy Fellowship was created in 2018 when ALEI and MDSG obtained NOAA Sea Grant funding to build legal capacity within MDSG. The program aims to be a collaborative coastal law and policy resource in Maryland. Kai will work closely with his advisory committee to select projects for his fellowship. The Fellows’ advisory committees are created just for the fellowship and have included members from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland’s Department of the Environment, the former Virginia Coastal Policy Center, Georgetown University Law Center, the Chesapeake Legal Alliance, and UMCES Board of Visitors, as well as past fellows. Fredrika Moser is the Director of Maryland Sea Grant, and Nicole Cook is the ALEI Environmental and Agricultural Faculty Legal Specialist at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Nicole will continue in her role supervising and mentoring the Fellow with help from advisory committee members.

You can find out more about the Maryland Sea Grant/ALEI Legal Policy Fellowship and our past fellows, here, here and here.


A Special Thank You To Ryan Zimmerman

Image of Ryan Zimmerman by Edwin Remsberg.

The Agriculture Law Education Initiative would like to thank Ryan Zimmerman for his one year with the program! Ryan accepted a position at Horizon Farm Credit and left the program in mid-August.

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In his brief tenure with the program, he assisted in planning and coordinating our first in-person conference since 2019, which had evolved into a hybrid program. Ryan was a valuable team member who improved ALEI’s organization, outreach, and overall impact of the program. The team will miss his cheerful and can-do attitude around the office. Good luck in the new position Ryan!


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