Deborah J. Kane, National Director, USDA Farm to School Program
As National Director of USDA’s Office of Community Food Systems, Kane leads USDA’s efforts to help child nutrition program operators incorporate local foods in the National School Lunch Program and its associated programs, as well as the Summer Food Service Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program. Kane leads the interagency farm to school team, advises the Administration on farm to school policies, key strategies and priorities, and promotes and represents federal farm to school programming to Congressional subcommittees, external stakeholders, and other interested parties. Via this work, USDA expects to enhance schools’ ability to work with regional producers, create economic opportunities for food producers of all kinds and empower schools to increase or augment programming that builds food literacy among the nation’s children.
Betti Wiggins, Executive Director, Detroit Public Schools Office of School Nutrition
Betti Wiggins is the executive director for the Detroit Public Schools’ Office of School Nutrition and responsible for school-based meal operations in 143 schools for all USDA child nutrition programs and non-program sales, facilities management, employees and services; training programs for all levels of staff, and managing external business relationships with vendors, school principals and non-profit organizations. Ms. Wiggins holds a degree in nutrition from Wayne State University. She has pursued graduate studies at the University of Minnesota and holds a certificate in municipal management from George Washington University.
Caroline Aubry serves as an AmeriCorps Farm to School Coordinator in the Northeast Kingdom. She works closely with teachers, parents, and farmers in the NEK to connect children to the local food system and promote healthy eating habits by facilitating taste tests, planning farm field trips, and leading in-class workshops. Caroline graduated from the University of Dayton with a BA in international studies and human rights.
Misse Axelrod is a farmer and educator who finds joy in cultivating new interests in food and farming for all ages in various community settings and on her own farm. Summer camps, field trips, farm dinners, and more provide a diversified learning opportunity for children and families.
Deborah Beauvais, RDN SNS: Debbi Beauvais is in her seventh year as the Director of School Nutrition Services at the Gates Chili Central School District, East Irondequoit Schools, and the East Rochester Union Free School District. A graduate of the University of Dayton in Ohio -Debbi is a registered dietitian and holds the SNS credential, School Nutrition Specialist. She is active in both the local, state and national dietetic and school nutrition associations. She is a past President of the New York School Nutrition Association, and is the current Secretary-Treasurer for the National School Nutrition Association, prior to this role Debbi was the Northeast Regional Director, Regional Director Chairperson, and a member of the SNA Education Committee. Prior to her tenure in school nutrition, Debbi worked in Healthcare Food Service Management and was also an adjunct professor at a local community college. She has two sons in college and is an avid soccer mom.
Florence Becot is a research specialist at the Center for Rural Studies (CRS) at the University of Vermont. Her research at CRS broadly focuses on two themes: economic viability of farm operations and the agri-food sector as a tool for community and economic development. Florence is also a PhD student in the UVM Food Systems program. Her dissertation looks at how farm households in France and in the US meet their social needs and the impact on the farm operation economic viability and farm household health, quality of life, and social resilience.
Chaunce Benedict served for 37 years in Vermont as a classroom teacher, principal and superintendent. He currently works to support arts education and educational enrichment opportunities for kids and schools in the Champlain Valley. Chaunce recently worked as principal of the Bakersfield Elementary Middle School, where he helped establish a successful Farm to School program, and as principal of Missisquoi Valley Union High School, where he launched a new and highly successful animal science technical education program. He is a graduate of Amherst College and the University of Vermont, and participated in the inaugural class of the Vermont School Leadership Program.
Richard Berkfield is the co-founder and Executive Director of Food Connects. He has been leading food system development work in the Windham County area for the past eight years. He is a member of the Vermont Farm to Plate Steering Committee as well as the Vermont Farm to School Steering Committee. Richard holds an MA from SIT Graduate Institute in sustainable development with a focus on food security for Vermont, as well as a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from Marlboro College Graduate School. He was named one of Vermont’s Rising Stars by Vermont Business Magazine in 2014. He and his family enjoy growing and preparing as much of their own food as possible, though as work demands increase, he better understands the saying that “the cobbler’s children have no shoes.”
Linda Berlin: As Director of the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Linda Berlin provides leadership to a team of approximately 10 staff working across the spectrum of sustainable agriculture with a common goal of enhancing the environmental, economic, and social sustainability of Vermont farms and the broader food system. Linda’s personal work is in the areas of food security, food access, and farm to school. She provides support to community initiatives related to the Senior Farm Share program, fruit and vegetable incentive programs, and other efforts targeting underserved audiences with nutrition messages. Her current research involves food security measurement of Vermont resettled refugees, and expansion of food access in the northeastern US through regional food systems. Her prior research was focused on understanding consumer views about food choice.
Mark Berry was a chef and restaurant operations consultant for 27 years before changing course and moving into foodservice sales. In 2004 Mark joined Burlington Foodservice Company as a sales representative. From 2007 to 2015 he maintained the positions of Business Development Manager, Regional Sales Manager, and Division Corporate Chef. In January of 2016 he became Division Vice President of Business Development. In this role he manages approximately 13 Million in Sales, mostly with 4 major customers, one of which is the Foodservice Directors Association of Vermont. He continues to be a consultant with many customers working in the areas of tracs management tools, food & menu design, kitchen and operations – solutions & design.
Janice Bosworth is the Sustainable Agriculture at Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury. The Sustainable Agriculture Program provides students with skills and knowledge necessary to pursue careers and college studies related to today’s northeastern diversified agriculture setting. This past year, Janice’s students conducted interviews with agriculture and food system professionals which resulted in a series of Food System Career Profiles.
Ann Bradshaw began her career in education teaching students in kindergarten through grade 8. Her administrative experience includes curriculum director, assistant superintendent and, currently superintendent at the Milton School District. A transplant from Massachusetts, she came to Vermont for a short term interim position that has been extended for two years. Her motto is now, ” I wasn’t born in Vermont, but I got here as soon as I could. It seems that every season is more beautiful than the last.”
Sean Buchanan is responsible for Black River Produce’s operations management, employee development, business expansion & company relations, product development & marketing strategies, and social and environmental business sustainability. He has spearheaded opportune projects including the launch of Black River Meats, a line of regionally-sourced natural meats, a campaign to develop larger market channels for Vermont food producers, and a reorganization of the company’s work flow systems. Prior to joining Black River Produce, Sean served in numerous positions that put him on the front line of food market trends and complex project management including Executive Chef at Stowe Mountain Lodge, as a writer and Producer of Vermont Public Television’s Feast in the Making, as Treasurer of the Vermont Meat and Poultry Processors Association and as a member of the New England Beef to Institution Task Force. Sean holds a degree in environmental science from Virginia Tech, and resides in Chester with his wife and three children.
Erin Buckwater is the Market Development Director for NOFA-VT. Since 2005 she has been working and volunteering in a variety of capacities on food systems and sustainable agriculture issues in Vermont, including farming and homesteading, building and managing community gardens, and managing a farmers’ market. She is currently the board chair of the Vermont Community Garden Network. Erin also co-chairs both the Farm to Plate Food Access Cross Cutting Team and the Farm to Institution Task Force.
Irene Canaris co-sponsored a daily healthy snack garden curriculum for her forty shared students at Westminster Schools beginning in the early 90’s. She has presented her program at the national level through the Coalition of Essential Schools Fall Forum, the CBS Morning Show and through NOFA conferences as well as on Across the Fence, a Vermont PBS garden program. Westminster’s school garden currently serves 170 students at two schools. Having retired from classroom teaching, Irene is now the Westminster Schools Garden Coordinator.
Jen Cirillo coordinates all of Shelburne Farms’ offerings to educators, and develops and conducts workshops, institutes, and credit-bearing courses at the local, national, and international levels. As director of Shelburne Farms’ Sustainable Schools Project, she works to further develop and evaluate the model, document promising practices, and conduct outreach to additional schools and communities. She co-chairs the K-12 and Teacher Education Sector of the US Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development, and she co-chairs Vermont SWEEP. Jen’s favorite part of the job is working with teachers and helping them to find their passion and joy in teaching and to share that with students of all ages.
Laura Collaro is a food and nutrition educator with experience working with kids from early childhood through high school. She is a 30-year veteran of food service in both institutional and commercial settings. For the past 11 years, she has worked in the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union in Child Nutrition as Food Service Manager and Nutrition Education Coordinator. Laura has been successful engaging kids of all ages in the kitchen, inspiring them to be creative and adventurous.
Catherine Cusack: As Program Director for Green Mountain Farm To School (GMFTS), Catherine works in partnership with GMFTS program staff in delivering high quality programming, with an emphasis on improving food access, educating children and community members on the value of Vermont’s rich agricultural landscape, supporting farms and building relationships to grow the reach of the organization. Since moving to Vermont in 2006, Catherine has advocated for equal access to healthy food and increased opportunities for all Vermonters. While caring for her two young children, she was a freelance health promotion consultant, completing projects focused on obesity prevention. Catherine has a Master of Science degree in Health Promotion from the University of Montana.
Mark Curran: Black River Produce Founders Steve Birge and Mark Curran met on the ski slopes of Vermont in the late 1970s. The two forged the idea for a new business that would fill a big gap in the local market—they would supply the area with quality, fresh fruits and vegetables. They started Black River Produce with $600 between them and a used VW bus with the slogan “Give Peas a Chance” painted on the side. Mark and Steve took turns driving the van to the Boston wholesale market for fresh produce for their retail store and made stops at southern Vermont farms on the way. To help fill their van at the produce market, they contacted a few local restaurants for orders. Local chefs spread the word and within a year, Steve and Mark were supplying more than 30 restaurants.
Today, Black River Produce has more than 2000 wholesale customers, including stores, schools, restaurants, clubs, camps, ski areas, hospitals, nursing homes and farm stands throughout Vermont, most of New Hampshire, and parts of New York and Massachusetts. The old VW bus has evolved into a fleet of refrigerated trucks. In 1996, the business expanded to include fresh and frozen seafood as well as cut flowers.
Doug Davis resides on a farm in North Ferrisburg, Vermont, with his wife and children. He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and is currently the Director of Food Service for the Burlington School Food Project in the city of Burlington, Vermont. Doug co-chairs the Food Service Directors Association of Vermont buying co-operative, Chairs the SNA’s Public Policy and Legislation Committee, is past President of SNA-VT and was a ten year board member of the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger. Doug has been working in child nutrition programs for over 20 years and has been actively involved in the Farm 2 School movement for over 10 years.
Ginger Farineau: As the Child Nutrition Initiatives Specialist at Hunger Free Vermont, Ginger Farineau works to incorporate nutrition as a priority in advocacy efforts to strengthen and expand early childhood education in Vermont. She knows that proper nutrition is crucial for the growth and development of the brain and that it plays a vital role in the health and well-being of children and their families. Ginger has over 20 years of experience as a Family & Consumer Science teacher and most recently was the Burlington School District Wellness Coordinator and facilitated the district’s Coordinated School Health Team. This team developed the district’s current wellness policy, which has gotten national acclaim and is used as a benchmark by the USDA.
Danielle Fleury is the Farm to School Lead for USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Northeast Regional Office based in Boston. In this capacity, she works with all Northeast states to support the integration of local foods and complementary educational activities into child nutrition programs. Danielle holds a master’s degree in public policy from George Washington University in Washington, DC, and was previously involved in the development of statewide education and nutrition policy with the Massachusetts State Legislature.
Rachel Floyd is the new Procurement Consultant with the Vermont Agency of Education. She is a transplant from the west coast and has spent time both in California and Washington state. Rachel is an Americorps alum twice over, mostly recently having served at the Vermont Foodbank as a 3Squares Outreach Coordinator. She also has experience in teaching garden based education, summer meals production, and curriculum development. Rachel is a graduate of The Evergreen State College where she studied food systems and food policy.
Marie Folan: As the Farm to School Program Manager for Green Mountain Farm-to-School’s flagship program, Maire Folan helps ensure Northeast Kingdom students have access to local food, have fun digging in school gardens, and receive important nutrition and agriculture education. She is a Registered Dietitian with a background in natural sciences and food systems.
Luke Foley, the 2014 Vermont State Teacher of the Year, teaches at the STAR Program at Northfield High School. Foley has a unique educational background, having worked as a wilderness guide, field instructor, and program director for several schools and programs in Vermont, the western United States, and around the world. He also spent time in the classroom as a social studies teacher at Montpelier High School prior to his current position with Northfield’s alternative program. Foley received his Masters in the Arts of Teaching from the University of Vermont and has a B.A. in International Political Economy from Colorado College in 2004. He is a 2015 fellow for the Lloyd Milken Center for Unsung Heroes, a council member for A Forest For Every Classroom, and an avid advocate for experiential learning.
Barbara Ganley directs Community Expressions, LLC, dedicated to helping communities, foundations, and nonprofits bring storytelling to change efforts. She co-founded Vermont Story Lab, a collaborative of Vermont nonprofits weaving storytelling into the heart of their missions. Previously she taught writing at Middlebury College, where she pioneered the integration of digital storytelling and blogging in the liberal arts and service learning. When she’s not leading workshops, she writes short fiction and creates visual stories from a barn in Weybridge.
Brooke Gannon is the Farm to School Coordinator for the Milton Town School District.
Amy Gifford works for Vermont FEED (Food Education Every Day), a collaborative farm to school project of Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) and Shelburne Farms. In addition to being the School Food Programs Coordinator, providing professional development and technical assistance to child nutrition professionals, she also coordinates Jr Iron Chef VT, a nine-year-old statewide culinary competition for middle and high school students.
Kimberly Griffin is the Farm Manager and the Director of Marble Valley Grows at the College of St Joseph. With 7 seasons of farming experience, 5 managing school-based production, she is passionate about the educational opportunities a farm has to offer.
Kathleen Haughney is the Director of Education at the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury. She has experience teaching in both K-12 and higher education settings as well as in early childhood music. She has a diverse background in education, ethnomusicology, and collaborative ethnography and media making. She received a BA in Spanish literature and a BM in cello performance from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA, and a master’s in ethnomusicology at Brown University in Providence, RI. As a PhD student in ethnomusicology at Brown, Kathleen co-led an audio and video ethnography project with Mbyá-Guarani musicians in southern Brazil.
Anore Horton leads Hunger Free Vermont’s efforts to enhance food security for Vermont’s youngest to oldest citizens through statewide food security initiatives. Anore spearheads Hunger Free Vermont’s ongoing campaigns for universal school meals, farm to school as food access, and “breakfast after the bell.” She works with schools, community organizations, food service providers, state and federal policymakers, and agency partners to develop and expand federally funded school lunch and breakfast programs, afterschool and summer meal programs, and childcare meal programs throughout Vermont. She led leadership development programs for Landmark Education for 8 years, and was a college instructor for 15 years.
Emily Hoyler teaches in the upper elementary grades at the Bingham Memorial School in Cornwall. She moonlights as the Curriculum Specialist at Shelburne Farms, where she has been involved in farm to school and education for sustainability curriculum design and professional development for the past five years.
Jill Hussels, RDN, has been a Nutrition Specialist for New England Dairy & Food Council (NEDFC) for more than 9 years. As a Nutrition Specialist, Jill works with schools across Vermont to implement Fuel Up to Play 60, the Dairy Council’s in-school healthy eating and physical activity program. She also directs local dairy campaigns and provides nutrition resources to area health professional organizations. Additionally, she helps coordinates with partner organizations to implement the Vermont Breakfast After the Bell Challenge. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and School Nutrition Association.
Katherine Gillepsie Jandernoa is a co-founder and Program Director of Food Connects. She works closely with food service professionals, teachers, and school families to integrate local foods into the cafeteria, educate students about healthy eating habits, and embed farm to school activities into the school and community culture. She supports her colleagues on a number of Food Connects’ initiatives. Although her current focus is working to strengthen local food systems, Katherine holds a Masters degree in Sustainable Development from SIT Graduate Institute and has worked in the renewable energy and public health fields.
Jeff Jones is the managing partner of Vermont Hydroponic Produce, based in Florence. He has spent years working to streamline food distribution in a way that works for small producers and large companies. In tandem with the UVP Group, which includes distributor Upper Valley Produce, Jeff developed Growershub.com, an innovative web-based food sourcing site that connects regional growers of all sizes with the Price Chopper chain of supermarkets. Using the chain’s backhaul logistics and regional hubs to pick up produce from multiple growers on one invoice, the site has created a much more efficient local sourcing program for a major northeastern food company, which has been recognized for its efforts in sustainability.
Liz Kenton coordinates the Youth Agriculture Project for 4-H at the University of Vermont Extension Service. Youth Ag provides hands-on programs that help young people build life and job skills, including tractor safety certification, as well as professional development for educators and service providers. She is also an active member of the Farm to Plate Network and co-facilitates its Food System Educators’ Professional Learning Community.
Rosie Krueger handles the USDA Foods Program for the State of Vermont, where she oversaw the role out of WBSCM ordering to the school level and reorganized the DoD Fresh program to provide direct deliveries weekly to Vermont schools. Prior to joining the USDA Foods program in January 2013, Rosie worked as a Congressional aide on Capitol Hill, handling agriculture and Farm Bill issues for a Member of Congress from Maryland. She grew up in Shrewsbury, Vermont and ate school lunch at Shrewsbury Mountain School and Mill River Union High School.
Alice Laughlin has been the chair of the Putney Central School Board for several years. She has led efforts to transition to an independent school meal program, develop a sustainability coordinator position and universal meal program development. She is currently leading the Act 46 WSESU Study Committee and is committed to including Farm to School in consolidation conversations.
Laura MacLachlan is the FTS Program Coordinator for Marble Valley Grows. She has been working with farm to school for seven years as a parent volunteer, then as an FTS coordinator at Lothrop Elementary and now at Marble Valley Grows. Her work in energy education through VEEP (Vermont Energy Education Programs) has allowed her to explore curriculum alignment with NGSS as well as how to work within the classroom as a community educator.
Crystal Maderia is the chef-owner of Kismet, a farm to table restaurant in Montpelier, VT. She is author of the New Seaweed Cookbook, and her recipes have been featured in Bon Appetite. Crystal is passionate about food systems and education, and works with many students, schools, and teachers. She is the chair of the Business-Education Partnerships within the Vermont Farm to Plate Network, working to build stronger relationships between workforce support organizations, educators, and businesses.
Steve Marinelli: Besides serving as the Food Service Director (FSD) of the Milton town school district, Steve Marinelli is Vermont School Nutrition Association board member and past president, Hunger Free Vermont board member, Vermont Farm to School Network team member, and Milton Community Youth Coalition board member. He has been an institutional FSD for the past 35 years, dedicating the past 18 years to the field of school nutrition. His passion and dedication in providing locally sourced, nutritious foods has been spotlighted in his work at the Barre city and Milton town school districts. He has been recognized for his work by First Lady Michelle Obama and continues to provide resources, training, and expertise to his fellow school nutrition professionals. Steve also engages in numerous legislative activities to expand farm to school, school nutrition professional development, and universal meals.
Mary Joan McLarney is a Lead Program Specialist in the School Nutrition Programs Branch for the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Northeast Regional Office in Boston, MA. She is a Registered Dietitian and has a BS in exercise science and a MS in nutrition science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, MA.
Prior to joining the USDA she served as a School nutrition director in MA for 13 years with the Westborough and Somerville, MA Public Schools. The Somerville schools were one of 20 school districts in the United States awarded the 2006 Congressional Victory Against Hunger Award. In 2008 and 2009 four of the Somerville Elementary schools were awarded gold, silver and bronze awards from the USDA for the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC), recognizing excellence in nutrition and physical activity. In 2011 she received the USDA Secretary of Agriculture’s Honor Award for Excellence in Training and Technical Assistance for her work with the USDA HUSSC Team and received the USDA Abraham Lincoln Award in 2015 for her work on the USDA National Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) Expansion Team.
Amy Nadeau is a 4th grade teacher at Derby Elementary School. She is part of the school’s Leadership team and has served on the Farm to School Committee at Derby for 3 years. She enjoys leading after school running programs to promote a healthy lifestyle for kids in the fall and spring. Amy has collaborated with her 4th grade team to bring community members into the classroom to share their diverse farming career experiences. Amy graduated from the University of Vermont with a Masters in the Vermont Mathematics Initiative program.
Abbie Nelson is Food Systems Education Director of NOFA-VT and Program Director of VT Food Education Every Day (VT FEED), a 16-year-old statewide farm to school project of NOFA-VT and Shelburne Farms. Abbie serves as a statewide school food system consultant and trainer involved in aspects of local purchasing and professional development with school food service. She has been working with statewide partners to advance access to local foods in institutions as a member of the Farm to Plate and the Farm to School Networks.
Jed Norris coordinates the Preschool Adventures program that runs in the fall, winter, and spring. Throughout the academic year, he also regularly teaches school programs; in the summer, he roams the farm with groups of campers. Jed came to Shelburne Farms with years of experience as an early education teacher as well as a program director of an early education school. He received his undergraduate degree in child development and his graduate degree in early childhood special education. A lifelong Vermonter who grew up on a dairy farm, Jed especially enjoys running into families that he has crossed paths with throughout his life. Jed loves the seasonal changes at the farm and the variety of experiences that each week brings, and sharing it all with his wife and two young sons, who love the farm more and more with each visit or story they hear.
Andrew Powers is a co-founder of PEER Associates, a New England-based company dedicated to helping organizations large and small answer questions at the heart of their missions. He has been involved in farm to school evaluation for the past five years and is currently serving as the evaluator of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program.
Maria Reade is in charge of compost operations at Someday Farm in addition to wearing many other hats on the farm. Her best days see her on the tractor or making deliveries in the big red dump truck. She served as Dean of Faculty and teacher of English literature at the Trinity-Pawling School in Pawling, NY, for 27 years. She now writes for Vermont Magazine, Edible Green Mountains, Edible Capital District, and the Northeast Organic Farming Association periodicals.
Valerie Prentiss Reppin has been a chef, caterer, Dorset Elementary School food service manager, and FTS coordinator for the past three years. She now works at Bennington School for Girls, a private school, as a year-round manager for trauma students with deep need for nutrition education and an introduction to FTS benefits for health and wellness.
Celia Riechel is an Environmental Analyst with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, focusing on sustainable materials management. She works on recycling, composting, and other alternatives to sending food to the landfill, as part of the Universal Recycling Law.
Erin Roche is a Research Specialist at the Center for Rural Studies at UVM since 2008, after completing an M.S. in Community Development and Applied Economics at UVM. Prior to moving to Vermont, Ms. Roche lived in Seattle, WA and was a consultant and sales/marketing manager, specializing in distribution channels for technology products
Helen Rortvedt works with Food Connects’ farm to school programs, supporting schools in southeastern Vermont to increase local food purchasing and school meals enrollment and participation, and to provide professional development for food service and teachers. She holds an MA in sustainable development from SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro. Her graduate work focused on policy advocacy and the local food system. She also has extensive professional background in experiential education and training design.
Betsy Rosenbluth Betsy provides leadership and coordination to advancing the mission of VT FEED (Vermont Food Education Every Day), a nationally recognized farm to school program of two partnering organizations: the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont and Shelburne Farms. Betsy also provides backbone support to the Vermont Farm to School Network and coordinates the Northeast Regional Steering Committee of the National Farm to School Network.
Before joining Shelburne Farms, Betsy was Director of Projects for the Orton Family Foundation, helped launch the Burlington School Food Project and Burlington’s sustainable schools program, and she helped draft and pass Vermont’s first Farm to School bill. Betsy received her M.S. in Community Economic Development from the University of Southern New Hampshire.
Kathy Rossman has been a high school science educator for 16 years, with the last three of those at Lund’s New Horizon Education Program as the science and math educator. She has a bachelors of science in geology from Ohio University and was awarded a teaching license in 2015 from the State of VT. Her favorite piece of her job is the challenge of shepherding students toward seeing that they are capable, intelligent, and bright.Her job and passion is to help them see that, with education, their worlds will open to many possibilities. Being a participant in the farm to school program seamlessly fits into this mission. By providing education through a lens of connectivity with food and community, coupled with hands-on learning, her students are able to have a richer educational experience that will serve as a foundation for them to build a greater understanding of their world, the impacts they can have on it, and the benefits they can provide for their children by better understanding the food systems that are fundamental to our society.
Beth Roy is the Manager of the Valley Food & Farm Program and coordinates the Upper Valley Farm to School Network for Vital Communities. Before joining Vital Communities, she worked in environmental and place-based education fields around New England, including the Vermont Institute of Natural Science and the Nature Museum in Grafton, where she was the Director of Education. Beth is also on the boards of the Vermont Science Teachers Association (VSTA) and the Vermont State-Wide Environmental Education Programs (SWEEP), a coalition of dozens of individuals and organizations promoting sustainability and environmental education in Vermont. Beth has a background in education, receiving her teaching certificate and a BS in biology from Southampton College. She also has an MS in environmental science and policy from Plymouth State University, where she researched the ties between sense of place and environmental stewardship.
Tom Sabo is a science teacher and sustainability educator at Montpelier High School and the founder and Executive Director of the Center for Sustainable Systems (CSS). Tom manages two greenhouses and numerous gardens at MHS that are used extensively across the school’s curriculum and provide food for the cafeteria. Through the CSS, Tom offers professional development classes and workshops to help teachers design relevant and rigorous food systems curricula. In his spare time, he plays awesome bass guitar!
Erinn Simon makes lunch every day for the kids of the Burlington Children’s Space and blogs all about it at bcslunchlady.blogspot.com. She also cooks for her family of five, makes art, writes, and practices the ukelele. She lives in the Old North End of Burlington, Vermont.
Katherine Sims is the founder and Executive Director of Green Mountain Farm-to-School (GMFTS). She started the organization in 2008 to improve childhood nutrition and support Vermont farms by connecting schools and farms through food and education. The organization has since grown exponentially. Katherine, who graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s in history, brings 10 years of experience building school gardens, connecting institutional buyers with local farms, teaching students about healthy food choices, and training school food service staff to prepare and serve local foods. She currently serves on several boards including UVM Extension, the Vermont Council on Rural Development, and the Vermont Land Trust. She lives with her husband, Jeff, in Lowell, where they raise chickens, grow vegetables, and enjoy life with their sidekick cat, Oslo.
Amy Shollenberger has more than 20 years of grassroots organizing, policy, and political issue campaign experience, including work as a press secretary for a member of the US House of Representatives and as a senior policy analyst for Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program. As Rural Vermont’s executive director, she worked to help members successfully lobby for several bills. In 2010 she was the campaign manager for a gubernatorial primary candidate in Vermont. She currently serves multiple clients through her Action Circles (www.action-circles.com) firm, which provides political strategy for issues and people. She is a member of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, the American Sustainable Business Council, and the National Association of Professional Women.
Brooksie Spears began her career at FNS in January 1983. She brings tremendous knowledge as a Senior Program Specialist in the School Nutrition Programs and serves as the State Desk for the Vermont Department of Education providing support and technical assistance to state agency officials and regional staff on Vermont’s administration of the Child Nutrition Programs.
Jamie Spector has been working in the field of social work and community organizing for over 20 years, with a focus on youth and families. Jamie has brought together her passion for sustainable community development and support for special needs youth and local food systems to promote and support Maplehill School and Community Farm’s Farm-to-School Program. She works to build various core and elective classes centered around Maplehill’s 142-acre working farm and is working to build a strong collaborative relationship with the local K-12 public school, Twinfield Union School. Jamie has seen the power of farm- and land-based activities with students with social, emotional, and learning challenges.
Harley Sterling is a local food activist who believes the true craft of a chef is using creativity instead of carbon to make food that is seasonal and local whenever possible. Harley is currently the Food Service Director at the Westminster schools.
Lauren Traister: As 4-H Teen and Leadership Program Coordinator, Lauren Traister runs a variety of programs to develop life and leadership skills in young people as well as trains adults to work successfully with youth. She has 13+ years of experience with experiential learning, life skills development, leadership training, and youth engagement.
Sarah Waring has been Executive Director of the Center for an Agricultural Economy since 2013. Prior to joining the CAE, she was Program Director for the Farm & Wilderness Foundation, a 73-year-old nonprofit outdoor education organization. She has worked in the nonprofit world in Vermont and the Rocky Mountain West in conservation, land use planning, and rural development, as well as for the Bureau of Land Management in Washington, DC. Born and raised in Glover, Sarah earned her BA from Haverford College and her MAA from the University of Maryland. Although she has lived in various places on the East Coast and in the Rocky Mountains, Sarah is proud to call Vermont home.
Libby Weiland: As Statewide Network Coordinator for Vermont Community Garden Network, Libby Weiland coordinates and supports Vermont’s community and school garden network. She works most directly with garden leaders, building their skills, confidence, and access to resources for their garden groups through training, technical support, grants, and networking opportunities.
Abbey Willard is the Local Foods Administrator with the VT Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. Her work focuses on increasing local food procurement in Vermont and supporting community-based food system collaborations within the state and New England region. Her current efforts involve increasing local food purchases in state government, expanding the amount of locally grown and produced foods served by Vermont institutions, collaborating with state partners to develop a Vermont Produce Safety program, improving local food access at farmers markets, supporting communities to develop regional food-focused priorities, and assisting Vermont farmers and producers to scale up to reach new markets.
Barrett Williams began teaching in 2001 as the Health and PE teacher at Tunbridge Central School and 2 years later became the PE teacher and behavior coordinator at Chelsea Public School and assumed the role of Assistant Principal and then Principal in 2006-2007. Prior to his arrival at Chelsea Public School they began working with the VT FEED program, which allowed me to see the positive benefits of place based education in action and offer support both as a teacher and administrator. In 2008 he accepted the Principal position at Sharon Elementary School. The staff at Sharon had been immersed in farm to school activities and professional development since 2001 and were eager to expand the program to develop more integrated curriculum units, diversified gardens both in size and variety, opportunities for hands on learning and improved partnerships with local community/farms. Nine years later he continues to lead Sharon Elementary as they continue to evaluate and assess our farm to school initiatives in hopes of growing and constantly improving.
Bruce Williams entered the field of teaching in 1974, beginning a 21 year teaching career starting at the Peterborough, NH Middle School, proceeding to the Georgia, Vermont Elementary School from 1976 to 1980, and then at the Lebanon, NH Junior High School until 1995. He served 15 years as the Principal of the Bernice A. Ray Elementary School in Hanover, New Hampshire and another five years as Superintendent for the Rutland Windsor Supervisory Union which then merged into the Two Rivers Supervisory Unions. He is now retired and happily pursuing his passion for woodworking, masonry, timber framing and forest management. Throughout his career and now into retirement, he has promoted outdoor education, hands-on gardening projects and the larger effort to connect children to their habitats. The Two Rivers Farm to School mission of “Eat Well, Learn Well, Live Well” captures the essence of this effort.
Jennifer Woolard: As the School Chronic Disease Prevention Specialist for Vermont’s Department of Health, Jennifer Woolard provides technical assistance to schools and community partners across the state in local school wellness policy development and implementation with the goal of creating healthier school environments to improve health outcomes in youth. She delivers ongoing assistance to VT Department of Health school liaisons who provide on-the-ground technical assistance and education to schools regarding a healthy school nutrition and physical activity environment. Jennifer also actively collaborates with statewide partners to align health-related goals and outcomes pertaining to wellness policy development.
Leanne Yinger, M.Ed. HNC is the owner of Kira’s Kitchen a Health Coaching practice that includes health/nutrition education and counseling and whole foods cooking classes for beginners. I am also a Mental Health Counselor and Nutrition Educator/Consultant for a private non-profit treatment center for girls, Vermont School for Girls in Bennington, Vermont.
Ali Zipparo coordinates the Farm to School Grant Program at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, and serves as the Vermont lead for the National Farm to School Network. She works at the intersection of food access, wellness, and farm to institution market development, with a strong focus on local procurement in state government, corrections, hospitals, schools, and institutions of higher education. She manages several inter-agency food initiatives, including a strategic task force focused on aligning the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Agency of Education, Department of Health, and Agency of Natural Resources around farm to school.