Transforming Agriculture, Perennially


Hannah Mellecker


Hannah Mellecker is currently a student at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, where she has been living in Boston for the past four years. She was born and raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and considers that location as home. She will be graduating from Northeastern in May 2021 with a BS in Environmental Engineering.




What drew you to work at TLI?
I came to Salina, Kansas earlier this summer to visit my dear friend Madeline and was filled with the infectious excitement surrounding perennial agriculture. As soon as I learned about the work here, the scientist and environmentalist in me knew that I had to take this opportunity to learn as much as I could.

What work experiences on your resume are most relevant to your position at TLI? How so?
Two years ago I did a six-month internship with the Boston Water and Sewer Commission in their design department. Although there are many differences in the type of company (a city municipality verses a non-profit research organization) and in the type of work (designing water, sewer, and stormwater distribution systems verses working as a farmhand and research assistant) some of the information that I learned may be more similar than you think. While working at BWSC I learned about green infrastructure, which opened a door for me to learn about ecosystem services and biomimicry – both of which build on using nature to engineer a better living environment for humans. This was the first time I was able to apply my love for nature into my career as an engineer, and I feel like working here at TLI takes me closer to that goal every day.

What would people never guess that you do as part of your role at TLI?
I spend a /lot/ of time working with seeds. During the month that I’ve been here, I have threshed seeds, de-hulled seeds, cleaned seeds, sorted seeds, sieved seeds, counted seeds, taken pictures of seeds, weighed seeds, harvested seeds, and planted seeds.

What else are you passionate about (outside of work)?
Outside of work I am passionate about nature, outdoor activities, and environmental activism. I grew up as a girl scout in Colorado spending my summers hiking, camping, rock climbing, white water rafting, learning about nature, and spending time outdoors. This love for the environment has followed me into adulthood. Last year I joined the Sunrise Movement – a youth-led environmental activist organization that advocates for political action against climate change. I became a leader in Boston where I helped organize and lead climate strikes.

What’s your motto / favorite quote?
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.” —Jane Goodall

What were you like at age 10?
When I was 10 years old, I absolutely loved to read. I would read in much of my free time – even on the playground at recess! I read many of the books on the Accelerated Reader list, and I competed in Battle of the Books. I wish that I had more time to read as I got older.

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