Anthropology student awarded Rachel Carson Council Fellowship

Edgar Villeda, a senior majoring in Anthropology (BS) - biological anthropology from Selma, has been awarded a fellowship with the Rachel Carson Council (RCC). With this fellowship, Villeda hopes to shed light on racial disparities and injustices to the Latinx community that have taken place in Eastern North Carolina with particular emphasis on Johnston County, his home county.

The RCC is a nationwide membership organization that engages and empowers supporters to take effective action in communities, campuses and at the local, state and national level. The RCC’s mission is to promote Carson’s ecological ethic that combines scientific concern for the environment and human health with a sense of wonder and reverence for all forms of life in order to build a more sustainable, just and peaceful future.

“This is great for Edgar and the Department of Anthropology. These fellowships are highly-coveted and competitive. Edgar's application demonstrated strong integrative thinking across environmental justice, biological anthropology, conservation, work/labor and rural Latinx experiences, drawing upon his own background and academic training. He will be an outstanding representative of Appalachian for this internationally-renowned organization, ” said Dr. Dana Powell, associate professor, Department of Anthropology.

The RCC Fellowship Program is designed to identify students with a passion for environmental education, organizing and advocacy. The program provides them with training in Washington, D.C., mentorship from RCC environmental staff and financial support to do the valuable work they care about and become life-long advocates for the environment. 

RCC fellows become leaders and active participants in the RCC’s national campus program with over 5,000 active faculty, students, staff and administrators at 56 campuses. As part of the RCC team, Fellows also help build RCC’s network of active students and faculty and have the opportunity to publish and speak on behalf of a respected national organization. The fellowship program is a paid opportunity and Villeda will receive a $2,000 stipend for his work over the course of the year. 

“I hope to shed light on any racial disparities and injustices that have taken place in much of Eastern North Carolina to the Latinx community with particular emphasis to Johnston County, where I am from. I was raised in a Guatemalan immigrant family and have been able to witness and experience firsthand what it is like being a Latinx individual living in that landscape. I have interests in linking conservation, justice and anti-racism work with environmental defense work, through re-visiting my own experience and community as well.

I want to learn about the experiences of Latinx migrants and laborers and share those voices in a way to bring awareness and learn about the people from non-profits who are trying to make a difference in Johnston County and Eastern North Carolina. Other than my research itself, I want to learn ethnographic methods and engage in advocacy-oriented anthropology which are important skills for my field and career,” said Villeda.

He is looking forward to the training in Washington, D.C. and to meeting other fellows as well. 

“This year the RCC training will be held online, due to COVID-19; nonetheless, I am still excited to learn more about the RCC and meet people from all over who also want to do good for their community and environment,” said Villeda. 


About the Department of Anthropology
The Department of Anthropology offers a comparative and holistic approach to the study of the human experience. The anthropological perspective provides a broad understanding of the origins as well as the meaning of physical and cultural diversity in the world — past, present and future. Learn more at

By Sophia Woodall
July 19, 2021

Edgar Villeda, senior and recipient of a Rachel Carson Council fellowship. Photo submitted.
Published: Jul 19, 2021 12:18pm