Landscape Architecture Graduate Student Wins $13,000 Switzer Environmental Fellowship

Landscape Architecture Graduate Student Wins $13,000 Switzer Environmental Fellowship
Landscape Architecture graduate student Tori Kjer has been awarded a Switzer Environmental Fellowship.

Graduate student Tori Kjer was recently awarded a Switzer Environmental Fellowship, a highly competitive award that provides a one-year $13,000 cash award for graduate study as well as networking and leadership support. Only the most active, committed and focused individuals successfully join the network of more than 300 fellows selected since 1986.

A Los Angeles resident, Kjer is pursuing a masters in Landscape Architecture at Cal Poly Pomona.

“I am very excited and honored to be awarded the Switzer Fellowship,” says Kjer. “This fellowship is an excellent opportunity to meet and connect with others interested in environmental change.”

In addition, the fellowship will assist her in covering living expenses and other costs associated with conducting research and writing her thesis.

Kjer's interests are based in environmental justice, identifying approaches to integrating natural systems into built infrastructure through the use of topography, swales and selective plantings of climate-appropriate plants, and the integration of policy and design. Her research is focused on issues related to community-based design in border communities and temporary settlements. The landscapes she will prioritize include the Colonias along the Mexico-United States Border, remote communities near toxic sites in the desert, rural communities lacking basic infrastructure, and inner-city areas surrounded by freeways, crime, and pollution.

Prior to graduate school, Kjer worked in a variety of positions related to social and environmental justice including work with homeless families, in domestic violence shelters and community gardens. Most recently she worked as a program coordinator at the Community Food Security Coalition. Her role in this position was to develop and implement a program throughout the state of California focused on collaboration with researchers, residents, and practitioners to conduct community-based assessments of food availability, hunger, and nutrition.

Kjer's post-graduate career objectives are devoted to working in impacted communities to implement environmental change on both a program and policy level. She hopes to integrate community organizing, environment and education to build stewardship, healthy neighborhoods and connection to place.

The goal of the Switzer Environmental Fellowship Program is to support highly talented graduate students in New England and California whose studies are directed toward improving environmental qualityand who demonstrate leadership in their field. Awards have been made to students pursuing environmental policy studies, economics, engineering, public health, and law as well as the more traditional sciences: biology, chemistry and physics. Technical knowledge, analytical skills and environmental experience are important components of a successful application, regardless of field of study.

The Switzer Environmental Fellowship Program specifically seeks active, enthusiastic individuals who have the ability, determination and integrity to become environmental leaders in the 21st century. The career and professional goals of potential fellows are carefully evaluated. Candidates with a strong vision of how they will apply their academic training to a career in the non-profit, government or private sector are preferred. Candidates pursuing academic careers, while not discouraged, are required to demonstrate their commitment to applied environmental problem solving beyond the classroom or university setting.