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Nilgiris Field Learning Center

A Project of the Keystone Foundation & Cornell University

Third Batch • Spring 2017

Keep up to date as Third Batch chronicles their semester in Kotagiri! Check out the “recent post” on  Home page for the latest dispatch from Kotagiri.

Here  are the Cornell and Keystone students who are starting their NFLC journey in Kotagiri this spring:

The eight Cornell students of NFLC third batch who are going to spend their spring in Kotagiri:


Bridget Conlon is a senior studying International Agriculture and Rural Development in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University. She grew up on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, USA, and lived there until she was 23 years old. Her past work experiences as a gardener, fisherwoman, and massage therapist led her to pursue a degree that fosters interdisciplinary study encompassing many aspects of human and planetary wellbeing. Her interests include sustainable agriculture, human nutrition, healing arts, and floriculture. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, gardening, sailing, playing music, and filmmaking.

saharia_bio_stillDeepa Saharia is currently working towards her Bachelors of Science in Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. She is pursuing minors in International Relations, Inequality Studies, and Development Sociology. A New York City native, she has extensively studied in community development, post-colonial systems, and participatory action research.She actively involved with Fall Creek Elementary School in Ithaca and the Cornell Outdoor Education program, using teaching as a tool to engage hope and foster community. Recently, Deep has become involved in labor action and social justice initiatives on campus, using the power of student organizing and solidarity to create positive change in the world. Deepa hopes to continue to pursue her interests in labor justice, environmental justice, and sustainable development


Emma Eaton is a junior majoring in Human Development in the College of Human Ecology with minors in Global Health, Nutrition, and Inequality Studies. She is interested in pursuing international development work with a particular focus on the interplay between agriculture, nutrition, and the environment. Her previous experience includes spending the summer volunteering at a shelter for girls in Cusco, Peru, and an ongoing soil analysis/management research project that works with rural subsistence farmers in El Rodeito, Honduras. When she isn’t out traveling, learning, or studying, Emma spends her time singing as a part of her a cappella group, The Key Elements. Her passions are incredibly interdisciplinary and she looks forward to expanding her education through the multi-faceted program and immersion that the NFLC offers.


Born and raised in Long Island, New York, Jake Pero is a Junior in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences studying Environmental and Sustainability Sciences.  In pursuit of a noble career, Jake has geared his studies toward environmental governance, stemming from a desire to help all he can, human and non-human.  His work with NYC Parks – GreenThumb on inner-city food security marks a far-reaching first step forward in this mission.  But now Jake looks to the Nilgiris, seeking to make a similar impact on a global scale.    By studying the region’s rich, yet marginalized culture, Jake hopes he’ll be able to better understand the causes and solutions for environmental degradation and poverty in an effort to resolve problems there, at home, and beyond.

Kieran Micka-Maloy is a 3rd year Cornell University student studying Urban and Regional Studies. Born and raised in New York City, he has been fascinated by the inner workings of urban areas for as long as he can remember. Kieran is interested in issues of sustainability and equity in planning, and would like to continue his studies after college in International Development Planning. In addition to his academic interests, Kieran loves traveling, dogs, and pizza.



Growing up swimming in the oceans and hiking in the hills of California, Paige Wagar developed a appreciation for the natural world from a young age. As an Environmental & Sustainability Sciences and Development Sociology double major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, she has had the opportunity to explore her passion of nature and its intersection with the inequalities plaguing modern societies. Through her work as a research fellow with Mayor Potencial in rural Honduras, Paige explores the impacts of changing precipitation patterns on subsistence communities. More recently, she has expanded her curiosities of the intersection of nature and culture to include urban communities by researching medicinal plant knowledge in an urban community in the Dominican Republic. These experiences have inspired Paige to pursue a career in public interest law and environmental policy upon graduation through which she hopes to bring awareness to the environmental injustices facing underrepresented communities.


Shaalini Ganesalingam is currently a junior majoring in International Agriculture and Rural Development, concentrating in Economics and minoring in Global Health. She is interested in the intersectionality of race and gender in determining disease vulnerability and global healthcare accessibility. She hopes to develop sustainable, upstream-factor-focused healthcare policies and programs. Shaalini is from the urban melting pot of Queens, New York. She enjoys the diversity found in music; She has taken Caranatic vocal lessons back home and currently is a member of The Chainotes, Cornell’s Jewish acapella group. She loves watching Tamil and Disney movies, listening to spoken word poetry, and writing. If she isn’t doing any of the above, she is probably satisfying her inner adrenaline junkie, learning how to skateboard, box, or walking on fences.


Hi, I’m Vanessa Rodriguez a junior in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences at Cornell University, majoring in Biology and Society. I started out university on a pre-medical track, but after two years of taking required courses I came to realize I was more interested in community health and well-being than in medicine. I focus my work now on Community Health and Social Policy; I am fascinated by how health has been both reflected and affected by advancement of technologies in different fields. Outside of my studies, I am passionate about youth empowerment. I am part of a national organization, WeThrive that provides youth with the knowledge and resources to build their own entrepreneurship project. In my free time, I love to explore (despite being clumsy) and to read.


The  eight  Keystone students who are teaming up with Cornell stduents for the spring in Kotagiri:


Hi, I am Abinaya. I am from Athi Kadavu, Pillur dam. I belong to Hindu Irular tribe.I hold a bachlors’ degree in Commerce with Computer Application. My intrestes are: drwaing, playing volleyball, and folk dance.

I expect to explore my interest in a specific subject wihtin NFLC.



 Hello!  I am Abhinaya Devi is from Banglapadigai where her family is engaged in agriculture. I am quiet but is very observant. I am  interested in  NFLC as it  will give me a window into another culture along with a deeper insight into my own. I hope that my time with NFLC will help me to choose the path in life.



Hi, I am Arul Kumar.  I am from Neeradi, Pillur Dam. I belong to Hindu Irular tribe. I am from  I have completed my 12th grade in school.  I am currently a volunteer at Keystone. Playing cirkcet, volleyball, folk dance are my interest area.

I want to gain new skills and knoweldge about the different topics wihtin NFLC that will help in my career.



Hello,  I am Gowtham R. I am from Vazhithotam. I belong to Hindu Irular tribe. I hold a bachlor degree in Civil Engineering. I am a district level Volyeball player. I am good at folk dance.

I expect to know more about wildlife and the livelihood activities around it from NFLC.



Hi, I am Mahandhi. I am from Aani Katti. I belong to Hindu Irular tribe.  I have completed my 10th grade.  I  like to play volleyball and I am good at folk dance.

I expect to  get new leanrings and experinces with people who are form different culture.



Hi, I am Meena.  I am from Neeradi, Pillur Dam. I belong to Hindu Irular tribe. I am from  I have completed my 12th grade in school.  I participated in YELP program conducted by Keystone where I learnt about wildlife photography and film-making.

I want to enrich my skills in film-making with the exposure gained from the course.


Hello,I am Prasath G. I am from Gudalur. I belong to Mulla Kurmbar tribe.I have completed 12th grade. I love to play football and I am good at folk dance. I have volunteered for a NGO named Accord.  I was asissiting in collection data among school going and drop out children in Gudalur.

I hope the course exposes me to the wide choices, so that I can choose the right path for my ftutre studies.


Hi,I am Vijayan.  I am from Kanakundur, Kadampur. I belong to Hindu Urali tribe. I hold a diploma in Chemical Engineering.  I have volunteered for keystone to gather village leven details for a baseline survey.

I expect to gain new skill and knowldge that helps me focus on my career.

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