Originally from Elkton, Oregon, Hannah T. Whitley is currently a doctoral student in Rural Sociology and the dual-title program Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and the Environment at Penn State. Her research is broadly concerned with collective action, public participation, and community resilience strategies related to agricultural, educational, environmental, and natural resource issues. Hannah's graduate research assistantship with the Water for Ag project brings together social and biophysical researchers and practitioners to work with communities in Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Arizona to address the water and agriculture issues that matter most to them through effective stakeholder engagement.
She holds a M.S. in Rural Sociology and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Penn State. Her thesis used a community-based participant action method called photovoice to explore how socially constructed identities complicate barriers and opportunities for urban agriculturalists and connect to broader institutional inequities. She created and coordinated The Female Farmer Photovoice Project, a program that invited participants to use photography and written narratives to represent and reflect on their experiences as women farmers, growers, food activists and agricultural educators in Pittsburgh, PA.
Hannah also holds B.S. degrees in Anthropology, Sociology, and Religious Studies from Oregon State University. Her undergraduate research explored issues such as community reactions to extreme weather events, siting of liquified natural gas terminals, rural education, and faculty diversity in post-secondary institutions.
Hannah has previously worked with the Pennsylvania Women's Agricultural Network and explored ways to connect women farmers from rural and urban areas. Prior to beginning graduate school in 2017, she worked as a barista, a writing assistant, an ambassador for Oregon State's College of Liberal Arts, and as a tutor in social science and humanities for student athletes. Hannah is an avid baker and can frequently be found watching theatre, crocheting, or doting on her niece and nephew.