Nathaniel Fish, a Berea College junior majoring in Economics, with a concentration in International Politics and Policy, as well as a minor in Agriculture and Natural Resources, is an excellent representative of Berea’s model of weaving together learning, labor, and service. Nathaniel believes that the pursuit of agricultural justice provides opportunities for spanning borders, building connections, and developing communities. A Bonner Scholar and founder of Berea’s Rotaract club, he actively participates in this work and continues to cultivate his skills, knowledge, networks, and experiences. Through work on the Berea College Farm and with Grow Appalachia, he participates in developing sustainable agricultural practices and networks in the Appalachian region. Through the development of international service collaborations, he demonstrates how relationships and networks can create capacity for sharing resources, participating in mutual learning, and developing opportunities for families and communities to thrive. Nathaniel’s focus on community economic development, sustainable agriculture, and international perspectives demonstrates that by supporting individual and community development, we can also support our environment and quality of life.
Growing up on farms across the United States and beyond, I saw firsthand the importance of agricultural sustainability, food sovereignty, and being close with one’s food systems. I became passionate about finding ways to improve nutrition systems alongside building local economies. My unusual childhood continually allowed me to meet and befriend other international travelers and farmers. My growing taste for adventure, agricultural justice, and new experiences led me to work as a Rotary Youth Ambassador in India, traveling across India meeting farmers, business leaders, and more. When I moved back to the United States to study International Economics at Berea College, I started working with Grow Appalachia. Here, I focus on helping set up small farmers in Appalachia with the tools to succeed. I also helped found a Rotaract Club on campus focused on international service through which we were able to hold tree planting and reproductive health programs in Siaya, Kenya. I try to approach every problem with the empathy to understand the situation, the diligence to lend a hand as a brother, and the respect of mutual partnership. When we look beyond borders, we can truly understand the transformative nature of returning to the soil and our neighbors.