Students and professors from the University of Montana learn about how people are dealing with life and livelihoods under dynamic conditions

Vietnam 2017 Bios

Eight students and one professor from the University of Montana will be in Vietnam from December 28, 2016 – January 19, 2017 for the seventh annual study abroad field course focused on climate change impacts and adaptation in the Mekong Delta. This innovative program is made possible through a partnership between The University of Montana’s Mansfield Center and Can Tho University.

Students will study the intertwined relationships of society, environment, and economy, and look at the potential impacts of climate change to see how people are adapting, or planning to adapt, to the coming changes.

The group will spend several days in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon), take field trips to coastal fishing communities, meet with rice and aquaculture farmers, and visit cultural sites. They’ll also travel to mangrove forests in Ca Mau Province and tropical forests in Cat Tien National Park (one of the largest areas of lowland tropical forests left in Vietnam), and spend four days in a homestay.

Meet the group and follow along through our daily blogs posts and photos.

Nicky Phear NickyPhearVNBLog

Dr. Nicky Phear is a faculty member at the University of Montana where she directs and teaches for the Climate Change Studies Program. UM’s climate change minor provides training in the scientific, social, political, and ethical dimensions of global climate change to offer students a unique, multidisciplinary understanding of the issue. Nicky co-teaches the introductory Climate Change: Science and Society course and develops experiential learning opportunities for students through internships, practicums, and field courses. In addition to Vietnam, Nicky has developed and led field-based climate change courses in Montana and Bhutan. This will be her 4th time leading the program in Vietnam. She’s thrilled to return to the warmth, hospitality, and graciousness of her colleagues in Vietnam.


Hi! My name is Lione Clare and I amLione Clare currently a junior at UM studying resource conservation and climate change studies. I was born and raised in Sitka, Alaska, a small island town in Southeast Alaska. The outdoors were my playground growing up, so I learned to appreciate nature at a young age. I now take every opportunity to hike, boat, ski, run, sea kayak, and camp, whatever will get me outdoors in our amazing public lands! I love traveling and have been to México, Peru, Bolivia, Guatemala, Tanzania, and Costa Rica, but nowhere yet in Asia, so I am very excited about participating in the Vietnam program. I’m interested in learning about and seeing how climate change is affecting the vulnerable Mekong Delta region and how people are creatively working to mitigate the impacts. I am also going to be taking photographs of the trip and creating a photo storytelling project this spring, which I am super excited about!



My name Kevin Cofer, I grew up in Billings, MT and am currently 27 years old (I will turn 28 in Vietnam).  I enjoy snowboarding, mountain biking, hiking, swimming, snorkeling/SCUBA, and of course traveling.  I am a UM alumni returning to begin taking courses towards a master’s in Natural Resource Conservation.  Specifically my interests lie in wildland conservation and restoration.  I am very excited to learn about Vietnamese society in the Mekong Delta and observe first-hand how sustainability, conservation, and hopefully even restoration techniques are designed and implemented in this unique region of the world.


My nasarah-luth2me is Sarah Luth. Some of my favorite activities are ultimate frisbee, running, skiing, backpacking, eating quesadillas and jumping in puddles. I am a junior majoring in community health with minors in global public health and climate change studies. I grew up in the busy city of Seattle, Washington but have been lucky enough to adventure through plenty of northwest and Canadian wilderness. The mountains fostered my appreciation for the environment while numerous sports and injuries pushed my interest in human health. I am excited to experience a different culture, and hope to learn more about how climate change is affecting Vietnam’s ecosystems, health, and livelihoods of the people. I am also interested in hearing Vietnamese perspectives on potential solutions and adaptations to climate change.


max-longoHi, my name is Max Longo. I am senior studying Political Science and Climate Change Studies.

I’m excited to learn about the potential social, environmental and economic impacts of climate change in Vietnam.  I’m particularly interested in the political dynamics that impact climate change in the Mekong Delta. I have primarily studied the political context of climate and the transition to renewable energy in the United States and Montana. This program is really intriguing to me because it will expand my understanding of climate change effects and adaptation strategies in a country with different political and economic constructs. This aspect of the program is exciting for me because it will give me the opportunity to build global relationships in formulating climate change solutions, which is essential in combating a global crisis. I hope to formulate a comparative analysis between climate change policy in the United States and Vietnam, which hopefully will allow me to have a more comprehensive understanding of international climate change policy.


cia-croweHi, my name is Anastacia Crowe, but I go by Cia. I am currently a senior at the University of Montana, and am pursuing a major in Environmental Studies and a minor in International Development Studies. I grew up in the mountains of a small town in Arizona, and I came to Montana for the great outdoors it possesses. I fell in love with Montana’s wildlife, mountains, rivers, people, local food culture, way of life and the conservation efforts that have led to millions of acres of public and protected land. I love hiking, backpacking, kayaking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, farming and really anything that gets me outside and close to nature. I have only travelled to Mexico and Canada during my lifetime, so I am extremely excited to have this opportunity to travel to Vietnam and learn about the issues that they face today. I want to learn about how climate change is affecting such a vulnerable country, and how they are dealing with it on a day-to-day basis, because here in Montana, we aren’t experiencing the brunt of climate change. I hope that from this trip, I am able to bring back valuable knowledge so that I can become a better global citizen.


Hello everyone!matt-seaton1_n My name is Matthew Seaton and I am from Salem, Oregon. I have already graduated from the University of Montana from the Geoscience degree. I spent the last six years in North Dakota being an onsite geosteering analysist. I found out about the Climate Change Minor program and decided to take a year off of work so that I could go back to school and focus on the program. Prior to attending the University, I spent six years in the United States Army, which provided me with a great deal of traveling. My main interest in participating in this program is to learn more about the issues developing nations are having with the effects of climate change. With a population close to 90 million people with 54 different ethnic groups, and with a growing population, economy, and culture, Vietnam is a great place to study the impacts of climate change on developing nations. Having a science background, I look forward to seeing the direct effects of climate change upfront and personal to gain a better understanding of its affect.



My name is Paul Willett. I am enrolled in the University of Montana for just one year to achieve the Climate Change minor through a program called National Student Exchange. My other school is in Eau Claire Wisconsin where I am majoring in Communications. My Communication Major is based on my interest in reaching the world through mass media. This is why understanding how different people and cultures in this world view, adapt, and make solutions for climate change is so important to me. I have never been out of the country other than to Canada, and so Vietnam is going to be a completely new experience for me and that’s what I am most excited about.


Hi all! My name is Allison (Allie) McGrath! I am a junior at UM studying psychology and international development studies. After I graduate, I hope to volunteer with the Peace Corps or a similar program. I grew up in Dillon, Montana in a family of 5 brothers, providing me with tons of adventure opportunities–hiking, camping, fishing, and cross-country skiing. Travelling is definitely a passion of mine but I’ve never been overseas, so I’m very much looking forward to this Vietnam experience. In the International Development Studies minor, I’ve been studying a lot about development in low income countries and impoverished areas, and seeing some of these issues first hand will only supplement what I’ve learned up to this point. I’m ready to explore a new culture and seeing what similarities an differences we share!