Nine Students Recognized for Farming and Forestry

Since 2005, the Vermont Land Trust has recognized students who are dedicated to farming, forestry, and land stewardship. This year, nine students received our Land Stewards Awards, along with a check for $300.

“VLT congratulates this year’s students their hard work and dedication,” said Nick Richardson, President & CEO of the Vermont Land Trust. “These are our future farmers, foresters, and land stewards who will keep our local businesses and working lands strong and healthy for years to come.”

This year's awardees are:

Harley Adams, Castleton

Harley grew up on her family’s goat dairy farm where she helps produce and sell goat milk soap, goat milk fudge, and raw milk. She hopes to expand the operation by adding goats and increasing the production of value-added products.

“I have grown up around animals and in nature my whole life, having always been drawn to both for as long as I can remember,” said Harley. “The lessons I’ve learned from living on a farm are something I can never forget, and the passion and peace I’ve gained for and from nature are something I’ll never regret receiving.”

Harley was nominated for the award by Mark Raishart, her Natural Resources Instructor at Stafford Technical Center in Rutland. Said Mark: “She is passionate about animals and agriculture, and she clearly has a strong commitment to her family's business and herd.”

Dustin Beloin, Jay

Dustin loves being outdoors and has set his sights on becoming a game warden. In 2021, he was chosen as one of Vermont’s 2021 maple ambassadors.

“I’ve been a Vermont resident my whole life and have always grown up working with or on the land in some way shape or form,” said Dustin. “Being a steward of the land and continuing the wise and sustainable use of it is important for everyone to do—because without the land there is no us.”

Dustin was nominated for the award by Sam Nijensohn, his Forestry and Natural Resources teacher at North Country Career Center in Newport. Said Sam: “Dustin is very involved with the working landscape in a wide variety of ways. He is an outdoorsman and a conservationist, a hunter and a trapper. He helps his family with their sugaring operations as well as logging and trail work, including grooming winter trails.”

Zachary Botala, Vergennes

Zachary has been a dedicated Forestry student at the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury for the past two years. He’s also an Eagle Scout and active member in the Center’s FFA chapter. He plans to attend Vermont Technical College and University of Vermont through the Forestry "2plus2" program to prepare for a career as a forestry technician or forester.

“I just like to work outside and use my hands,” said Zachary. “I've always had a strong interest in the environment, more on the wildlife side as I'm a sportsman. I know that helping to take care of the environment will help the wildlife and the quantity of the resources available to them.”

Zachary was nominated for the award by Aaron Townshend, his Natural Resources Management instructor. Said Aaron: “Zachary is a young man of exceptional character. He is compassionate, dedicated, and immensely capable. He has a strong connection to the land and is the type of reflective communicator that the Natural Resources field needs.”

Amanda Ferris, Braintree

Amanda Ferris is out daily on her family’s dairy farm working with animals. As a Vermont delegate to the National Dairy conference, she was second overall in New England, working steers on the Eastern States team. She is also the treasurer of Randolph Technical Career Center’s FFA chapter and shows several teams of oxen. She will attend Paul Smith’s college to prepare for a career as a game warden.

“The wildlife that inhabits Vermont's land is why I try to do as much as I can through thoughtful and proactive, farming and agricultural practices,” said Amanda. “I want to keep Vermont's natural resources and land healthy and beautiful.”

Amanda was nominated for the award by Matthew Dragon, her Diversified Agriculture Instructor. Said Matthew: “From growing, harvesting, and processing vegetables for the community to learning how to safely use a chainsaw and tractor, I have found Amanda to be deeply interested in everything about the Vermont landscape. She is always willing to go above and beyond.”

Ethan Moultroup, Richmond

Ethan Moultroup has spent many hours outside hiking, fishing, and hunting. These experiences have influenced his learning at the Natural Resources Forestry & Horticulture program at Center for Technology in Essex. His next step is to start a small business focused on tree service and firewood processing.

"The reason I work hard outdoors is because of my family,” said Ethan. "They got me in the woods at a very young age. Especially during sugaring season, when I would carry my hammer through the woods and help my grandfather put in the taps.”

Ethan was nominated for the award by Brian Japp, his Natural Resources Forestry & Horticulture teacher. Said Brian: “Ethan has been an excellent addition to our program this year. He really shines once we get out into the field. It is clear that he has a deep connection to Vermont and our native landscape.”

Caleb Salisbury, Barre

Caleb’s Natural Resources and Sustainability teacher Amanda Garland, nominated him for the award, saying: “Caleb is passionate about the environment and doing what is right. He strives to learn more about our natural world so that he can lead by example.”

At Central Vermont Career Center in Barre, Caleb has led a team on projects that range from building a trail bridge, to expanding community garden opportunities for his fellow citizens in Barre. He was also a State Park Ranger at Stillwater State Park, and he plans to apply for federal ranger positions.

“I am proud to work with the land and to keep VT healthy!” said Caleb. “I find the work to be satisfying because of the physical work, the sense of accomplishment, and the calming effect of working outdoors and with great people. I look forward to being able to advance my skills in working with the land to continue to do my part.”

Jackson Ransom, Strafford

Jackson Ransom grew up on an organic dairy farm and plans to continue the family legacy. He is also knowledgeable about how farming interacts with the natural environment, from following required agricultural practices to understanding how best to protect water quality and improve soil. Most of all, he loves farming. In the fall, he plans to attend Vermont Technical Center to study Dairy Farm Management.

“It's really satisfying to see a field you spread with a lot of manure grow a ton of hay the next year and know you're making better feed for your cows,” said Jackson. “I like getting up early to bring the cows in from pasture, watching the sun rise and thinking of the work ahead. We're the last dairy farm in Strafford and I'd like to keep it going for another generation.”

Jackson was nominated for the award by Ian Blackmer, his instructor of Diversified Agriculture & Natural Resources at the River Bend Career & Technical Center in Bradford. Said Ian: “While at River Bend, Jackson soaked up the Diversified Agriculture and Natural Resources program content from forest stewardship to maple production—and runs the family sugaring operation. We are lucky to have Jackson as one of the next generation of dairy farmers in Vermont.”

Brady Roy, Springfield

For the past ten years, Brady Roy has been working on his family’s 25-acre woodlot, where you can find him felling trees or feeding and caring for the family’s beef cattle, cows, and chicken. He also has his own team of oxen which he uses to haul loads and compete in 4H programs. Looking ahead, Brady plans to attend college and major in forestry, and expand the family business of farming, sugaring, and balsam wreath production.

“The connection I have to Vermont's land is unbreakable,” said Brady. “From gathering sap in the spring and haying in the summer to watching the mountains fill with colors in the fall, Vermont is the best place on earth. I am happy to call it home.”

Brady was nominated for the award by John Harmer, his Horticulture and Natural Resources teacher at River Valley Technical Center in Springfield. Said John: “Brady has a great work ethic which comes from his years of practical work experience, which is impressive to see at such a young age. His intelligence, thoughtfulness and reliability are only surpassed by his hard work and diligence.”

Paige Surrell, Windsor

In her freshman year at Woodstock Union High School, Paige had the opportunity to study horticulture and join the FFA Woodstock Chapter. From this, she says, her love for the outdoors and farming blossomed. Someday, she hopes to have her own farm to raise livestock and produce.

“I wanted to know where my fruits and vegetables were coming from and to make sure I was supporting local farmers,” said Paige. “I started working in the dairy industry my sophomore year of high school and was able to learn a lot about how it contributes to our lands and how we as people impact the farming industry.

Paige was nominated for the award by her agriculture teacher, who described her as independent, hardworking, and highly motivated. She cited that it was important for Paige to know where food comes from and to grow as much locally as possible.

“For me personally, there is nothing more rewarding than knowing where your food comes from and the dirt-covered, hard-working hands behind it,” said Paige.