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The Food Connection Graduate Fellowship in Food Systems 

Today’s agro-food system professionals are called on to solve increasingly complex challenges. Challenges that require both discipline-specific knowledge, as well as a deep understanding of the dynamics at play as our food travels from farm to consumer.  The Food Connection Food Systems Fellowship (FC Fellowship) is a two-year, funded fellowship program to develop future leaders across food systems to work across local food value chains, from farm gate to dinner plate. Fellows will receive support to complete their Master’s degrees in one of five graduate programs in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, conducting food systems research in their discipline with the guidance of one of our program mentors (listed below). Courses, individually-tailored professional development plans, study tours and active engagement with the work of The Food Connection will ground students in the workings of local and regional food systems, and prepare FC Fellows to be the next generation of food systems practitioners.   

Becoming a Food Connection Fellow 

Fellowships will be available for six students, matriculating in Fall 2022 or Fall 2023. Applications will be screened on an ongoing basis beginning in January 2022. Students from underrepresented backgrounds, first generation, and with a commitment to working in food systems in Kentucky after graduation will receive priority. All applicants must apply to one of the following Master’s programs prior to their acceptance to the FC Fellowship program:   


FC Fellows will receive a $18,500 stipend for each year, a $2000 cost-of-education allowance and funded program travel are provided. Accepted fellows will also receive a tuition scholarship sponsored by the Graduate School, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, or their home department. Additional funds for research, creative scholarly activities, and professional travel are also available. 

Program Requirements

FC Fellows will be required to participate in a two-year professional development program with a cohort of other outstanding future leaders in food systems. This includes activities that complement Master’s work in their own graduate degree programs, including:

  • Join FC Fellows and affiliated faculty for a one-week Kentucky Agro-Food Systems Study Tour prior to starting classes in the first fall of their study
  • Enroll in Introduction to Local and Regional Food Systems course
  • Participate in planning the Kentucky Local Food Systems Summit
  • Enroll in the Food Systems Professional Development Colloquium
  • Complete applied research in food systems as a component of the thesis in their major degree program

Learn More and Apply Now

For more information about graduate studies at the University of Kentucky, visit this site. Please note, most participating graduate degree programs have rolling deadlines. However, additional fellowships and scholarships from The Graduate School or UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment may have earlier deadlines. Coordinate with your prospective mentor for guidance through the application process. 

Program Mentors 

Krista Jacobsen, Food Connection Faculty Director and Associate Professor, Department of Horticulture

Makenzie Barr, Assistant Professor, Dietetics and Human Nutrition

Nicole Breazeale, Assistant Professor, Community and Leadership Development

Dave Gonthier, Assistant Professor, Entomology

Yoko Kusunose, Associate Professor, Agricultural Economics

Funding for FC Fellow stipends, cost-of-education and travel is provided by a US Department of Agriculture National Needs Fellowship grant award.

With questions, please reach out to:

Krista L. Jacobsen, PhD

Associate Professor of Sustainable Agriculture

Faculty Chair, The Food Connection | University of Kentucky

859.257.3921 |

Preferred pronouns: she/her/hers

Director of Undergraduate Studies, Sustainable Ag & Community Food Systems