With a focus on environmentalism, agriculture and sustainability, the Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellowship announced seven scholarships this week, and in a first for the organization two new fellowship positions aimed at encouraging renewable energy on the Island.

The Martha’s Vineyard Vision fellowships began in 2006 with the idea of helping Island students with scholarships and support for advanced educational opportunities. Since that time, 137 fellowships have been awarded as the program has continued to adapt and expand to include students and members of the Island community pursuing advanced degrees and in the workforce.

Speaking with the Gazette by phone Thursday, program director Melissa Hackney said the mission has grown over the years to include fellows in all stages of life.

“Over time, the program has reached into that community of mid-career and post-graduates,” she said.

In addition to the seven fellowships announced this week, the organization is searching for two fellows to fill the roles of energy planner and energy transformation coordinator. The energy planner fellowship will be housed at the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and collaborate with local players to help determine the Island’s energy future. The energy transformation coordinator fellowship will be part of Vineyard Power and help Islanders make sustainable energy choices in their homes, businesses and transportation.

“It’s an experiment for us,” Ms. Hackney said. “We’re trying to adapt to and respond to needs that are clearly deep.”

Ms. Hackney said the organization reached out to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and Vineyard Power to ask what help they needed in order to serve their goals. She said the two organizations developed the positions and are tasked with helping to fill the fellowship roles. Both positions are planned to be self-sustaining after the two-year fellowship period.

“We’re really hopeful that we’ll be able to find someone who fits into the Vision fellowship criteria,” Ms. Hackney said. “They are definitely skilled roles that require talent and experience.”

The seven fellowships spanned occupations from student to documentary filmmaker.

Peter Lambos, director of operations of the Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust’s Seafood Collaborative, earned a fellowship for his work with the seafood collaborative, a wholesale seafood market which opened in 2021 in the wake of the Menemsha Fish House’s closure during the pandemic.

Mr. Lambos will work to ensure stability of the seafood collaborative, a major lifeline for Island fishermen facing hardship throughout the pandemic. The collaborative also works with the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group to restore shellfish resources on the Island.

Five students — regional high school seniors Keissila Cecilio and Nicholas Cranston, and former regional high school graduates Augusta Dillon, Taynara Goncalves and Rodrigo Honorato — each received fellowships this year. A major theme is healthcare.

“There is a strong contingent of healthcare workers,” Ms. Hackney said. “We need these providers,” she added.

Ms. Cecilio plans to attend college in the fall with the goal of becoming a medical doctor. She is currently a nursing assistant at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and while in high school earned her Certified Nursing Assistant license, CPR certification, Alzheimer’s certification, and Covid-19 certification. She is also a student leader for Martha’s Vineyard Commission and a homeroom facilitator.

Mr. Cranston will attend Tulane University in the fall to study marine biology. For four years, he has served as assistant harbor master in Tisbury. A student athlete, Mr. Cranston also spearheaded a project in high school that tested the validity of growing phytoplankton at home as a viable food source. The project was supervised by his AP biology teacher (and 2019 Vision

Fellow) Dr. Carrie Fyler. He will intern with Cottage City Oysters over the summer with the goal of finding a kelp species that can be grown efficiently in the summer.

Ms. Dillon is pursuing a master’s degree in nursing from the Simmons University online program. For two years, she has worked as pediatric ambulatory staff nurse for the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. An Island native, she graduated the regional high school in 2010.

Ms. Gonclaves, a native of Brazil, will pursue a master’s degree in physician’s assistant studies. Her goal is to provide respect and equitable healthcare to all patients, regardless of demographic. She has been a medical assistant and health coach with Island Health Care since November 2020. She graduated the regional high school in 2016.

Mr. Honorato will pursue a bachelor’s degree in social work. An Island native, he graduated the regional high school in 2012 and attended Dean College for two years before returning to the Vineyard to work in HVAC and carpentry for several years. Since late 2019, Mr. Honorato has worked for Martha’s Vineyard Community Services as a family support worker.

One fellowship was awarded to Island filmmaker Matthew Taylor, who will work on a series of short films documenting the agricultural process on Martha’s Vineyard. He will produce the films from footage shot at nine Island farms from 2005 to 2007. Each film will showcase a different piece of the Island’s agricultural puzzle, with interviews and footage of the agricultural process.

“Every year we are always heartened by the quality of the applicants,” Ms. Hackney said. “So many that we can’t obviously choose them all.”

The organization is actively searching for fellows to fill the roles of energy planner and energy transformation coordinator. For a complete job description, email Melissa Hackney at hackney@vineyardvision.org.