Home early from a semester abroad in Galway, Ireland, Guy Thomas ’21 landed a position with Robinette Organic Farm in Martell, Nebraska. As he constructs three greenhouses, Thomas is learning about organic operations, and finding connections between topics in his environmental studies and history courses that interrogate the industrial agricultural complex.
A Nebraska native, Thomas says his home community is at the center of America’s food production and food controversy concerning its monoculture practices and the resulting environmental degradation. “Nebraska is really at the heart of the debate over big agriculture,” he says.
At Robinette, Thomas says he has observed conscientious operations that prioritize healthy soil and water, and the growth and sale of more nutritious food. The farm sells produce through a community-supported agriculture (CSA) model.
“While building greenhouses, I’ve gained a better understanding of the work put into the transition away from mono cultivation and the concepts I have studied at HWS. There is a clear connection between popular movements to diversify crop rotation, move away from harmful pesticides and buy food locally. The end product is better quality food.”
An environmental studies and history double major, Thomas says his most influential courses have been the study of water conservation with Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Beth Kinne and the creation of land ethic in American history with Professor of History Clifton Hood.
Summer internships, Thomas explains, have proven to be an excellent way to put into practice concepts he learns throughout the semester. “The HWS Environmental Studies Program prepares you well in terms of concepts, and then there is no greater experience than digging your hands in the soil and producing for a community.”
Although he had to return home early from his semester abroad in Galway, Ireland due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Thomas says he had the opportunity to observe the Irish people’s relationship to the environment. “I noticed that Irish people often think about how their actions affect climate change.” Thomas says his courses abroad showed him how, over the course of history, the island nation has acknowledged its own finite resources through low consumption and conserving resources. Comparatively, Thomas was struck by how mythologies about American life emphasize abundance, especially through energy consumption.
Thomas previously interned with Trout Unlimited in Arlington, Virginia, where he developed an afterschool program to get more young people outside and fly fishing. The program’s learning goals were to teach students about trout, threats to their ecosystems, and the relationship between people and nature.
On campus, Thomas is a tutor for America Reads and the HWS Tutor Corps. He is a member of the Fly Fishing Club, Ducks Unlimited and Delta Chi Fraternity. He is on the Dean’s List.