Bonner student looks ahead to a more sustainable future

Helena Kilburn

Staff Writer

Chris Hornsby (C’19) is a tall, redheaded, sophomore from Nashville and a Bonner site leader for the university farm. Hornsby has recently been awarded with a fellowship for his Bonner work, which is specifically focused on black soldier fly larvae and its ability to be used as a waste management resource.

His project will allow the farm to take the daily 500 pounds of food waste from McClurg and turn that waste into a natural way to feed the animals. Hornsby can see the project evolving into an effective waste management strategy which could be used by municipalities and cities. He also sees this as an effective way to eventually “feed the world on the world’s food waste” by turning the larvae into a food source.

Originally, Hornsby did not think that a small, remote, liberal arts school was what he was looking for, but in the end it was the best fit. After attending a Health Sciences and Engineering High School, Hornsby felt that he was ready for a challenge other than rigorous academic classes. At Sewanee, Hornsby has experienced that his classes are only about 40 percent of his education. The rest of his learning has been from field experience he has gained on the University Farm and from his agriculture and forestry project conducted over the summer in Haiti through the Haiti Institute in Sewanee.

During his junior and senior years of high school, Hornsby became more interested in agriculture through his agriculture policy class, as well as exposure to his sister’s work at an organic garden.

When Hornsby first arrived at Sewanee he did not have any farm experience, but thought that the University Farm would be an interesting place for his Bonner site. Now, almost a year and a half later, he feels that the farm is what keeps him anchored at Sewanee. There are aspects of Sewanee that can be found at other schools, but the farm and his connections to it and the people involved there are irreplaceable to Hornsby.

According to Hornsby’s friend and co-mentor for this year’s First Year Program (FYP), Hadley Montgomery (C’18), Hornsby is motivated by his love for being outdoors and seeing nature in its true state. She also says he is driven by his desire to educate and help others. Hornsby’s most impactful and noteworthy experience at Sewanee was being an FYP mentor because it gave him the opportunity to share his ideas and advice about how to experience Sewanee and provide incoming freshman with tools and a community to support them.

Hornsby’s project involving fly larvae shows that natural processes can be more effective and sustainable than many modern technologies. Over the rest of his time here at Sewanee, some of Hornsby’s goals for this project are to patent parts of the process, turn it into a legitimate side business for the farm, and hold workshops in order to help the community create more independent businesses. Hornsby wants to make sure that this project can be a tool for him to help teach the community and the school about small sustainable business models.

Hornsby is driven and motivated to do this work by a belief that inspires and may improve the future or our planet: that the most incredible and fulfilling thing he can do with his life is to find ways to live in harmony with the natural world.