Staff, Board, and Interns

Rural Vermont Staff

Andrea Stander, Executive Director
Andrea StanderPrior to being named Director for Rural Vermont, Andrea served for a year as the Executive Director of the Vermont League of Conservation Voters, after having helped organize their highly successful Get Out The Green Vote initiative during the 2010 election cycle. From 2007 to 2010, Andrea helped lead the development team at the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, as well as coordinating member communications such as the VPIRG newsletter and Annual Reports. During that time, VPIRG’s annual operating budget topped $1 million.

In 2006, Andrea was the Central Vermont Regional Field Coordinator for Bernie Sanders’ successful campaign for the US Senate, organizing staff, interns and volunteers for all aspects of the grassroots campaign in Lamoille, Washington and Orange Counties.

Andrea began her community organizing work with the Northern Plains Resource Council (NPRC) in Montana in 1992, where she spent 4 years working with farmers and ranchers who were being affected by the environmental and social impacts from large scale mining operations. Like Rural Vermont, NPRC was founded and is still directed by farmers and ranchers and is one of the most effective advocacy organizations in the intermountain west. In her last year in Montana, she served as the Campaign Manager for a statewide citizens’ ballot initiative to protect Montana’s clean water resources that was supported by an unprecedented coalition of environmental, agricultural, wildlife protection and sporting organizations.

A Vermont resident since 1997, Andrea has also worked with the Northern Forest Alliance as Media Coordinator and with the Vermont Arts Council as Communications Director.  In addition to her professional work, Andrea is a dedicated local food consumer and an active participant in many community organizations, including currently serving on the boards of Food Works and the Girls and Boyz First Mentoring Program.  Andrea’s diverse experience in community organizing, advocacy, communications and fundraising is an extremely valuable asset for Rural Vermont.
andrea@ruralvermont.org


Shelby Girard, Outreach Coordinator
Shelby Girard
Shelby has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Legal Studies from the University of Massachusetts. She assisted with the start-up of Salvation Farms, a statewide gleaning network, before being hired by Rural Vermont in 2006. She is passionate about building healthy communities, and supporting the farmers who serve as the backbone of these communities. She finds working with a dedicated and diverse network of farmers, and all of their customers, to be endlessly rewarding. Shelby lives in Brookfield with her family, and when she’s not working, she can be found playing with her toddler, enjoying the sun and snow, or volunteering for a local committee planning events for her community.
shelby@ruralvermont.org

 

coco-photoCoco O’Connor, Administrative Coordinator

Coco brings to Rural Vermont a deep love of Vermont’s small farms and a commitment to building a vibrant regional food system.  Prior to joining the staff, she was the Director of the Northfield Teen Center and continues a decade of involvement in education and farming . Her side projects include a small fermentation business, Wildwood Culture, training an unruly draft pony, and exploring the woods of her North Fayston home with her loyal dog, Basho.
coco@ruralvermont.org

 

 

Ben Hewitt, Organizer

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. Ben and his family also run Lazy Mill Living Arts, which offers workshops in skills of hand and land. He believes fervently in the power of regenerative, community-scale agriculture as an antidote to the ongoing erosion of health, environment, and equality in the contemporary globalized economy.
ben@ruralvermont.org

grahamGraham Unangst-Rufenacht , Organizer

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 Board

doug flack, credit corey hendricksonDoug FlackFlack Family Farm – Enosburg Falls

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 – Randolph

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 Taylor Farm – 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 CampbellFamily Cow Farmstand – Hinesburg

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 is so grateful for the opportunity to continue this farm and provide people with healthy, nutritious food.

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.

Interns

Will Ball, Winter/Spring 2017, Legislative Intern

Will Ball joins Rural Vermont while completing his final semester for his Bachelors degree at University of Vermont. Growing up in New York City, his interest in food systems began during a summer internship with GrowNYC, a non-profit organization that manages over 50 farmers’ markets weekly. Soon after, he created his own major in food systems with a focus on regenerative agriculture and economics. In 2016 he spent one semester studying abroad in Denmark where his program focused on sustainable development of Northern European countries. Following his graduation, Will intends to continue working in the non-profit field, advocating for legislation that promotes regenerative agriculture.

We will be accepting application for Summer 2017 internships in early March. Please email Coco for more information or visit our Internship page.