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.
shelby@ruralvermont.org.

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.
coco@ruralvermont.org

 

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.
ben@ruralvermont.org


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.
graham@ruralvermont.org

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

Rural Vermont Board

Cat Buxton – Sharon

Cat Buxton is a busy cross-pollinator. A social entrepreneur, she runs Grow More, Waste Less, in Sharon VT, empowering and connecting communities to affect positive change from the ground up. A self-described microbe geek, Cat loves to talk about bugs, soil health, gardening, and composting, pretty much wherever she goes. She manages the edible schoolyard at Thetford Elementary School, weaving it into K-6 project based learning, and is a technical guide for school compost systems. She’s the coordinator for Upper Valley Apple Corps and a host of other projects including the Vermont Healthy Soils Coalition. She consults, teaches, and presents about soil and ecosystem health. She loves to be outside with hands on earth, and to live simply with her husband and kitty friends.

 

Kalyn 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.

 

 

Elena Gustavson – Montpelier

Elena Gustavson grew up in the middle of a sprawling city with a mother who turned up the rocky foothill soil around their home and grew the largest cabbages in the whole neighborhood, foraged in the mountain forests and fished local waters with nets – LONG before it was hip (but still pretty cool). As an adult pursuing entrepreneurship in both the food industry, retail markets, and communications, Elena eventually moved her young family to Vermont in 2004 where she has since worked with all manner of farmers, food producers, small businesses, and non-profits. She is thrilled to support an organization that holds at its core the belief that our well being lies in connection to and in purposeful action for, our small Vermont farmers, healthy working soils and nutritious food.

 

 

John Lomachinsky  – Springmore Farm – Baltimore

John 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.

 

 

Kate MacLean & Nick Zigelbaum – Longest Acres Farm – Chelsea

Kate MacLean & Nick Zigelbaum own and operate Longest Acres Farm in Chelsea, Vermont, where they raise Animal Welfare Approved, 100% Grass-Fed and Organic beef cattle and sheep. They also raise a smaller number of pastured pigs, broilers, layers and guinea fowl. After a short stint as a mechanical engineer, Nick joined the Natural Resource Defense Council, lobbying for stringent energy codes and enacting green building legislation in California. Meanwhile, Kate worked for the then startup, Facebook. Growing weary of offices and suits, they fled to farms in France, North Carolina and Western Massachusetts, finally settling in Vermont on their own land in 2012. Now, they hope to leverage their science, advocacy and social media prowess on behalf of the Rural Vermont board to bring about regenerative, holistic and pro-farm policy.

 

Derek O’Toole – Anchor Light Farm- Braintree

Derek O’Toole grew up in a small town outside of Worcester, MA. Always hands-on, and never one to be found working behind a desk, Derek decided to give the mariner life-style a try. After 6 years piloting ships on the Great Lakes, he returned to New England with an itch for farming. After apprenticing at Sunrise Farm CSA in White River Junction for 3 seasons, Derek decided to start his own farm with the idea of using horses instead of tractors, and providing fresh, local food for his community. Having grown up around horses, he enjoys the challenge and complexity of using horses for farm work, logging and sap collecting. He and Megan started Anchor Light Farm in 2012.

 

Meghan Stotko – Heartwood Farm – Albany

Meghan Stotko is co-owner of Heartwood, a 5-acre diversified vegetable farm, old-fashioned sugaring operation, and catering company in the Northeast Kingdom. As a former goat farmer, Meghan got involved in Rural Vermont’s raw milk campaign in 2012 and has been working with RV to promote the vitality and interconnectedness of workers, eaters, animals, and soils ever since. Meghan brings her background in food justice, education, and community organizing to the boar

 

Stephanie Walsh – Burlington

Stephanie 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.

 

 

Chris Wood – South Royalton

Chris Wood is a collaborator and a community connector. In the field of farm and food policy and concerns, he has been co-manager of the Winooski Valley Food Coop, co-founder and co-director of Rural Vermont, publisher of Organic Farmer magazine, and founder of the Vermont Farm and Food Coalition in the 1980‘s. He co-founded the Horn of the Moon Cafe (in Montpelier) back in 1977 and currently serves as Executive Director of BALE (Building A Local Economy).

 

Board Member Emeriti

Doug Flack, Fairfield
Lee Light, Marshfield
Lisa McCory & Carl Russell, Bethel
Ron Morrisette (deceased), Braintree
Jenny Nelson, East Ryegate
John Pollard, South Londonderry
Dexter Randall, Newport Center

 

 

Interns

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