In 2004, VLT established an awards fund to recognize outstanding vocational agriculture and forestry students whose direct involvement in the stewardship of agricultural and/or forest resources indicate a strong likelihood that they will continue in these important roles. This award has provided an important opportunity to acknowledge the accomplishments of some outstanding students. This year we are pleased to award seven students around the state with Land Steward Awards.

Alick Lord – Waterbury (pictured above)

Alick Lord of Central Vermont Career Center was nominated for the award by Amanda Garland, his Natural Resources and Sustainability Instructor.

Alick, a senior from Waterbury, has worked on projects that take care of the land in ways that benefit the local community. He has removed invasive honeysuckle at the Orchard Valley Waldorf School in East Montpelier. He works full time at Grow Compost in Waterbury, and built a 3-bin compost system for the Berlin Elementary School. He has planted native trees in floodplains to maintain riverside ecosystems, and has planted fruit trees at local schools.

He has also done trail work that helps the public access and enjoy natural areas, including building a 16-foot trail bridge at Barre Town Elementary School and helping maintain trails for Millstone Trails Association. He has been inducted into the National Technical Honor Society, and won the Student Achievement Award for Natural Resources.

Anthony Allen – Derby

Anthony Allen of the North Country Career Center grew up learning to harvest timber with his father, who is a logger. He helps with logging on the weekends and hopes to have his own logging business in the future. He was nominated for the award by his Natural Resources instructor, Sam Nijensohn.

“Anthony is a remarkably hard worker with an authentic desire to perform acts of conservation and stewardship to the land he works on, and to care for it for the benefit of future generations,” noted Sam.

Anthony’s hard work is apparent not just in the forest, but also in the classroom. He has excelled in his Natural Resources class, and shows dedication in math to learn the financial skills necessary to run his own logging business in the future.

Cody DeVries – Addison

Senior Cody DeVries of the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center grew up on his family’s dairy farm, learning the trade from his grandfather. The land is no longer a dairy, and Cody has been helping to raise beef cattle there now. He is also building a maple sugaring operation on the property, investing time and money into this new business venture.

When not working at his family’s farm, Cody works for a local crop farmer and a custom field work operator. He is an active member of the Middlebury FFA chapter, where he is treasurer. He has competed in FFA events at the state and national level, including soil and land evaluation, dairy products, and agricultural mechanical science.

Emily Surrell – Windsor

Graduating senior Emily Surrell of Woodstock Union High School was nominated by her Agriculture Instructor, John Hiers. Over the past two years, she was a student in his Horticultural Science and Advanced Agricultural Studies classes.

Emily has been a part of 4H from a young age, participating in judging events and volunteering. She started working at Billings Farm last year helping with farm chores and educates the public about farming practices. At school, Emily plays softball and participates in theater, and has been inducted into the National Honor Society.

The Farm 2+2 Program offers college students a path to a career in agriculture, studying dairy management for two years at the Vermont Technical College in Randolph, and then continuing for two years in University of Vermont’s Dairy Program. Emily has received a scholarship for this program, and will begin attending Vermont Technical College in the fall.

Henry Baker – Brookfield

Randolph Technical Career Center student Henry Baker, from Brookfield, was nominated by his Environmental Resource Management Instructor, Maxwell Van Houten. Henry grew up on a dairy farm helping his family milk cows, process firewood, and sugar. He currently milks for a local farmer. In his free time, Henry plays lacrosse and enjoys photographing scenic landscapes in Central Vermont.

“Henry is one of the most respectful and engaging young people I have had the chance to work with,” said Mr. Van Houten. “He is an unusually helpful ‘fix-it’ man. He loves coming up with solutions to nearly any problem. His sincere concern for helping others seems to be at the heart of this creative problem-solving attitude.”

Henry recently demonstrated these skills in redesigning his family’s sugarhouse. He hopes to continue farming the family’s land, incorporating maple syrup and value-added dairy products.

Raymond VanderWey – Ferrisburgh

Raymond VanderWey of Vergennes Union High School was nominated for the award by his Agriculture teacher Bill Van De Weert, who taught him in three classes: Welding and Electricity, Small Engines, and Tractor and Equipment Operations.

Raymond lives in Ferrisburgh and helps his family crop 300 acres of hayland. The VanderWeys sell the majority of their hay to local farmers and people with horses, and use the rest to feed the young beef and dairy cows that they raise as replacement farm animals and pets. He also works for Deer Valley Farm, a dairy with 600 acres of grass and legumes and 500 acres of corn.

Raymond joined his FFA chapter early, when he was still in middle school. He has been involved in FFA throughout high school, and competed in Dairy Cattle Judging and Safe Tractor Operation competitions. He has also been involved in 4H, showing cows.

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Aaron Sweet – Berkshire

Aaron Sweet of Cold Hollow Career Center grew up on his family’s 300-acre farm and has taken over much of the operation. He sells sap to a local sugarmaker and has been expanding his maple business ever since he assumed responsibility for it. The sugarbush is now at 2,000 taps. Aaron plans to continue expanding production upon graduating from high school, aiming to reach 8,000 taps. Aaron is also a member of the local FFA chapter and won the Master Milker Award last year.

Originally interested in becoming a dairy farmer, he has readjusted his plans due to the current agricultural economy. He now plans to make a living selling heifers and beef cattle. Currently he is raising 12 cattle.