Staff, Board, and Interns

Rural Vermont Staff

Shelby Girard, Development and Outreach Director (aka Senior Coordinator of Many Things)

Shelby is Rural Vermont’s most senior staff, having been with the organization since 2006.  She was hired as Organizer, transitioned to Outreach Coordinator, and most recently became Development & Outreach Director. Shelby manages Rural Vermont’s fundraising campaigns, oversees communications & social media, plans events, and fills in gaps as needed. She believes vibrant communities can save the world, and loves her job because of Rural Vermont’s role in building these robust and resilient communities. Shelby lives in Brookfield with her husband and two young kids. When she’s not working, she can be found in the garden, at Brookfield’s Old Town Hall, in the kitchen, or blowing bubbles with her kiddos.

Coco O’Connor, Administrative Coordinator (aka Ninja Warrior)

Coco brings to Rural Vermont a deep love of Vermont’s small farms and a commitment to building a strong and accessible regional food system.  She manages the office, memberships and the website and will likely be the one to answer the phone when you call. Coco has a couple of degrees tucked into a drawer somewhere but enjoys working with animals and her hands much more! Her side projects include a small fermentation business, Wildwood Culture, training an unruly draft pony, and trying to keep the upper hand on all the projects around the rocky Lincoln homestead she shares with her partner and a menagerie of creatures.


Ben Hewitt, Communications Coordinator (aka Chief Propagandist
Ben was born in St Albans, and raised on a 165-acre homestead in Enosburg. He is the author of five (soon to be six) books, writes for numerous periodicals, and operates an extremely diversified homestead farm with his family in Stannard. He keeps a hand in as many Rural Vermont projects as possible, including fund-raising, strategizing, community organizing, and outreach. He believes fervently in the power of community-scale agriculture as an antidote to the ongoing erosion of health, environment, and equality in the modern world.

Graham Unangst-Rufenacht , Field Organizer
(aka Regenerator)

Graham served on the Rural Vermont Board for a number of years before transitioning to a part-time organizing role in January 2017. Graham’s work at Rural Vermont focuses primarily on grass roots organizing, coalition development, and policy.

Graham grew up in East Montpelier and currently lives in Plainfield, VT. He is an educator and herbalist, and co-owns a seasonal grass fed and finished beef operation (Robinson Hill Beef) and home-to-farm scale agroecology design / build business (Walking Onion). Graham has been working with youth in a variety of settings and organizations in Vermont including: ROOTS School, EarthWalk, The Maplehill School and Community Farm, and the King Street Youth Center. He is currently looking for land to live, grow a family, farm, and educate on.  He graduated from UVM with a degree in Religious Studies and Plant and Soil Science; has a Permaculture Design Certificate from Yestermorrow Design / Build School; and attended the 3 year clinical herbal training program at the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism.

Rural Vermont current staff (Coco, Graham, Ben, & Shelby) with past staff (Mollie Wills & Andrea Stander)

Rural Vermont Board

doug flack, credit corey hendricksonDoug FlackFlack Family Farm – Fairfield

Doug has been a member of Rural Vermont for many years. He was a founder of the Farm Fresh Committee and advocated for raw milk and direct meat sales. In the past, he was also active with the Farmer Protection Act for strict liability related to GMOs and with opposing the National Animal ID System (NAIS). Doug says, “I am a farmer directly affected by bad policy at the state and national level, and my presence will help keep Rural Vermont properly directed towards dealing with real issues for farmers.”

Lisa McCrory & Carl Russell (Carl Russell is Board Member Emeritus)Earthwise Farm and Forest – Bethel

carl russell, credit corey hendricksonlisa mccrory, credit corey hendricksonLisa and Carl met at a Rural Vermont Kitchen Meeting about GMOs in 2000, and have been active with Rural Vermont ever since. Carl and Lisa believe strongly that the relationships we make with people through food, and then through food to the Earth are those most fundamental to our human experience. They think that the work that Rural Vermont is doing to influence and create policy that facilitates small-scale, local, farm-direct food commerce is extremely important. Lisa and Carl own and operate Earthwise Farm & Forest, a 150 acre diversified enterprise, where they raise organic flowers, vegetables, grass fed livestock for meat, eggs, and dairy, and use draft animals for logging and field work. They sell raw milk from their farm and farm-slaughtered poultry at their farmers’ market booth.


john pollard, credit corey hendricksonJohn Pollard – c/o Haven Hill Farm –South Londonderry

Over the years, John has been engaged in Rural Vermont’s Farm Fresh Milk campaign, as well as the National Animal ID System and Farmer Protection Act campaigns at the Statehouse. He came to Rural Vermont with twenty years of experience on other boards working out issues of public interest, and still holds the position of treasurer on some. He has been a successful small dairy farmer and restorer of old homes and farms for over forty years. He finds all parts of Rural Vermont’s Vision for Vermont Agriculture to be powerful, but to highlight three that resound loudest for him: reverence, diversity, and interdependence – interdependence above all. John is actively engaged in recruiting new members to Rural Vermont, reaching out to his milk customers, and spreading Rural Vermont’s message and information about the issues.


Susan & Ryan Hayes Farm of Milk & Honey –Hyde ParkRyan_Susan_Bella

Ryan and Susan Hayes operate The Farm of Milk and Honey, an Animal Welfare Approved (AWA), small, grass-based raw milk dairy. They also produce raw honey from treatment-free hives as well as pastured pork. Ryan and Susan are passionate about grass farming and champion heritage breed animals that thrive in natural environments. Their goal is to provide the community with sustainably raised, nutrient-dense food that nourishes the mind, body, and soul and that supports rather than depletes our natural resources. Ryan and Susan launched the Farm of Milk and Honey in 2014 in Washington and will relocate their farm to Hyde Park in the spring of 2015. Rural Vermont has played a key role in supporting their farm through advocating for more fair and just raw milk regulations. They look forward to contributing to the organization and its mission through their role on the Board.


kalynKalyn Campbell – Chelsea

Kalyn found her passion for farming as a student at the Dickinson College Farm in Pennsylvania. She started dairy farming and making cheese soon after and she loves it. Kalyn took over the Family Cow Farmstand in Hinesburg in 2013 and currently operates a homestead in Chelsea.



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Stephanie Walsh – Burlington

4-768x1024Stephanie came to Vermont in 2004 to attend the University of Vermont where she earned her Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science in 2008. She then continued to study at Vermont Law School where she earned a Master of Environmental Law and Policy in 2009. After interning for Rural Vermont during her time at VLS, she recognized that she had a passion for agricultural law and policy and working for organizations that support farmers. After finishing her graduate studies, she took a part-time “summer job” on an organic dairy farm in Addison County and has never looked back. Stephanie has spent the last 7 years working for various Vermont non-profit organizations and organic dairy farms in Vermont. Until recently, she owned and operated a raw milk micro-dairy and diversified farm in Bakersfield.


Rich & Cynthia Larson
Larson Farm – WellsCynthia and Rich

Rich & Cynthia Larson own and operate Larson Farm & Morningside Stables. They have lived and farmed in Wells since 1977 and are proud to offer fresh, healthy food to the community, including milk, grass-fed beef and pasture-raised eggs from hens fed organic, non-GMO grain along with the grass and insects they forage themselves. Their goal is to influence the world for good through the use of their resources in an agricultural business that provides for them financially, involves other people, creates quality products, is environmentally sound, and allows for a balanced life that includes time for renewing of the mind and body, recreation, and service to others. They have been very active in support of Rural Vermont programs and campaigns and currently serve on the Raw Milk Strategic Leadership Team.

John Lomachinsky  – Springmore Farm – Baltimore

john LJohn is a first generation farmer who started working on a large pick your own farm outside of NYC when he was in high school. After graduating college with his BBA in small business management, he became the retail and horticultural manager of that farm. John and his wife Becky live in the small town of Baltimore, VT. They own SpringMore Farm, a small, pasture based farm consisting of chickens, turkeys, and pigs that are raised in a natural, healthy environment without the use of hormones, antibiotics, or medicated feed. They also raise strawberries and vegetables for market and offer a poultry CSA. It was during a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail that they learned the true value of food. In a situation where they were burning more calories per day than they could consume they started to see food in a new light. John is excited to be a part of Rural Vermont and help Vermonters access local food from local farmers.

Dexter RandallEmeritus Board Member, Newport Centerdexter randall, credit corey hendrickson

Rural Vermont is the voice of the family farmers of Vermont. Dexter has been involved with Rural Vermont since the beginning, in 1985. He was elected to the board in 1993, became board chair in 1996, and held that position until he was elected to the Vermont House in 2004. Dexter says, “I think I have a good vision of what family farms need and where we need to go to create a community based food system of good food, locally grown and processed, while building healthy soils, strong communities, and happy families. Rural Vermont is the only opposition to corporate agribusiness in Vermont, and we cannot let that voice go silent.” Dexter raised 5 children on their family’s organic dairy DexRan Farm in North Troy, where two of his children have decided to stay. One of his other sons has started his own farm recently. Looks like the Randall tradition lives on, and Dexter attributes a lot of that success to Rural Vermont’s strength and commitment.


We are currently NOT accepting applications for Fall internships. Please check back in December for Spring internship opportunities.