Meet Our Members

Jennifer Moffet

The Nature Conservancy

I grew up spending time in some of the most beautiful national parks in our country and got opportunities to spend my summers working for the National Park Service in Yellowstone starting in high school. It’s really not surprising that those experiences led me to a career that blends protecting and stewarding the space nature needs for wild processes and inspiring others to take part in that goal. What I love most about conservation work is that there can be no right answer–conservationists work in the uncomfortable and rewarding space of finding best practices both for the landscape and for people. I have a background in outdoor environmental education and stewardship and am beyond thrilled to spend a year serving at The Nature Conservancy in Vermont. TNC is an exemplary organization that is doing tangible things everyday to protect wild places and processes and preserve biodiversity. I love serving in a role that meets my desire both to “get things done” and also create space for folks to volunteer and build their own relationships to the land as stewards.

After graduating from Middlebury College with a degree in Conservation Biology, I served last year with VHCB AmeriCorps and gained a lot of respect for and was inspired by VHCB as an organization. That coupled with a desire to serve as part of a large conservation organization drew me back to VHCB AmeriCorps for a second year. While I am not from anywhere near Vermont, this state continues to inspire me with its commitment to seeing other’s needs met, preserving natural places, and doing things differently. Service can mean many things to different folks, but I just feel grateful that the work I love serves our planet and all of the life on it.

Nate Tomlinson

Randolph Area Community Development Corporation

Growing up in upstate Vermont I’ve always loved nature and the outdoors. I attended college in upstate New York for two years before I started missing the green mountain state, at which point I transferred to UVM. I graduated from UVM in 2016 with a BS in environmental sciences with a concentration on conservation biology. I enjoy skiing, running, reading, and pretty much anything that involves hanging out with animals.

I joined AmeriCorps VHCB because the program provides a great opportunity to get real-world job experience doing work that matters. I view it as a chance to serve a community who, in return, helps me learn and grow both professionally and as a person. My hope is to establish connections as well as start to figure out what I want to do for a career moving forward.

I chose to serve as the Stewardship and Outreach Coordinator for the Randolph Area Community Development Corporation because it gives me a chance to work with the rare and beautiful floodplain forest in downtown Randolph. My experiences so far have been very rewarding. I’ve enjoyed working with the various local groups and schools to get the ball rolling on future project days in the floodplain forest. It’s been really nice to talk with some enthusiastic people who seem very excited about the work we’re doing in the community, and I look forward to the rest of my service!

Rae Bronenkant

Audubon Vermont

“I have spent my whole life exploring and loving the outdoor world. There was no time for TV for me growing up only running around the woods taking it all in. I was lucky to have parents who supported and loved the outdoors as I did, and spent a lot of time hiking in the Whites and around my home. I started off studying Biology at Keene State for two years before transferring to the University of Vermont. I took a year off and moved across the country living in Washington State for the better part of a year. There I worked at a Marine Science Center and dove into teaching. I fell in love. Exploring and investigating the topics of the natural world with young minds was my passion and I was glad that the science center taught gave me that opportunity. Returning to Vermont I changed my major to Environmental Studies with a concentration on outdoor, sustainable, environmental, education. While in school I worked at few different places doing environmental education. As well as I spent a fall semester backpacking and kayaking around Montana on a Human and Land Connection course through the Wild Rockies Field Institute.

     To me service is the opportunity to help an organization or cause that supports a mission that is fundamental to your core.That is what I have noticed from interacting with this years’ AmeriCorp members. Each person has had an amazing ride to get to where they are and each has a set of values that are so important to them. Whether it be in support of the environment or people. It is amazing to see this group of passionate people involve themselves and work so hard. I feel it is such a gift to be serving at Audubon Vermont to be able to inspire minds of all ages by engaging them in the natural processes of this amazing state, and hopefully create long lasting stewardship.

     Fun facts about me… If I am inside it won’t be for long…. When I have free time am usually biking or hiking and in the winter I love skiing especially skinning uphill to get down. In 2017 I have driven across the country three times each time running around or skiing around exploring all the magical places across the country. When I was little I showed dogs, and my BEST buddy since I was 12 years old is my labrador Fiona the Wonder Dog and still is.”

 

Rebecca Roman

Vermont Land Trust

I was fortunate enough to develop my skills and knowledge for environmental science at the University of Vermont where my focus was conservation biology and biodiversity.  In addition, I spent time in Madagascar through the School for International Training where I studied biodiversity and natural resource management.  My time in Vermont has not only fostered my love for the natural world, but also given me a sense on place here, in the Green Mountain State.

To me, service means fully listening to and working alongside communities and individuals to understand what they want to accomplish and creating a plan together for meeting those goals. I was drawn to VHCB because my passion for the environment is largely focused around the intersection of land conservation and community involvement.  Fortunately, VHCB is unique in that it serves Vermont’s communities in addition to serving the land in one, holistic approach.  By getting community members involved in the conservation process, it is possible to instill a dedication to the land and a better understanding of the importance of land protection.

Melissa Abbott

Champlain Housing Trust

I grew up in a small town in Western Massachusetts. I went to the University of Vermont and studied Community Development and Applied Economics. I graduated with a degree in Community and International Development. A combination of growing up in a small community and studying community development at UVM helped me grow an interest in helping people and being involved in whatever community I am in.

I chose to serve with VHCB AmeriCorps and at Champlain Housing Trust because I live in Burlington and wanted to serve the Burlington community. Available and affordable housing is a serious issue in Burlington and Champlain Housing Trust works hard to help people find housing in Chittenden, Franklin, and Grand Isle counties. Service to me means having a hands-on experience and getting to help people and the community.

One interesting fact about me is that I played rugby for five years in high school and college. It’s a wonderful sport!

Anna Caputo

VT Institute of Natural Science

It always seemed as though I had an innate sense of environmentalism from a young age. I have always been captivated by all the little wonders of the natural and knew early on that I wanted to spend my life perusing something to conserve them. After graduating from Green Mountain College with a degree in environmental studies I found myself drawn to the fields of environmental education and science communication. I want to work within these fields to enhance environmental and scientific awareness that allows for a shift towards a more socially and environmentally sustainable world.

Previously, I had worked in non-profit nature reserves and environmental centers (mostly focused on saltmarsh estuaries) educating a wide range of audiences from adults to youth in both New Jersey and Rhode Island. I decided to serve with VHCB Americorps after feeling a strong nostalgic pull to return to the Green Mountain State and an eagerness to teach the people of Vermont. In addition, I chose to serve with VHCB because they are one of the few organization which attempts to tackle both social and environmental issues. I strongly believe that both social and environmental justice are linked together.

      To me, service is working beyond yourself to make positive changes in the world. To some extent, I think service requires people with starry-eyed optimism paired with a practical “get things done” attitude to be willing to create changes. I like to think that I am one of those people, a grounded dreamer. At The Vermont Institute of Natural Science, I hope to use this to my advantage, teaching people not only about raptors but of how these birds of prey fit into our ecosystem and how they, like everything else, are connected.

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” –John Muir

Thomas Arsenault

Groundworks Collaborative

Raised in a tourist trap on the coast of Maine, fighting with seagulls for the good favor (and sizeable tip) of visitors from Massachusetts or Canada or wherever, I first came to Vermont to attend Marlboro College. There I studied politics, fell in love nearly every day, and learned how to feel comfortable at parties. Since graduating, I’ve returned periodically to teach classes on incarceration under the wing of political theory professor and friend, Meg Mott. In the interim I’ve worked many odd jobs in many odd locations throughout New England, but still find some semblance of a home in Southern Vermont. A true cowgirl, as they say.

Historically relying on theory & text to advance my sense of social/political growth, I’ve become interested in material projects that reflect my values & help create (from the rubble if necessary) the kind of place I’d want to live. Even though it may not sound revolutionary on paper, Groundworks (my host site) acknowledges that everyone has material needs and that those needs are not always sufficiently met, but they deserve to be met. Moreover, they recognize homeless people for what they are: not a burden to the state or an eye-sore for businesses downtown, but as neighbors and community members worthy of dignity and respect. I hope to radiate that sentiment not just to people who use the shelter, but to Brattleboro at large.

Many other goals & ambitions come to mind when I think of the coming year. Here are a few more to round off this bio: build an adept knowledge of how a homeless shelter is run & find where I can be useful in that structure, find ways different service organizations in Brattleboro can communicate to create a bigger picture of the the desires/needs of Brattleboro, draw pictures every day, tattoo my friend Grig, make amends with the winter, and find the perfect dress.

Scott Berkley

Catamount Trails Association

Hey! I’m Scott. I came to the Green Mountains during the epic cold and snow of February 2013 and have been trying to stay warm and make my home here ever since. I lived in central VT for five years while attending Middlebury College, where I majored in English and American Literature and wrote my thesis on the Modernist poet Wallace Stevens. Over the winters I skied as much as I could in and around the Vermont hills, and for four summers I worked in the White Mountains of New Hampshire at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s backcountry huts. I got my introduction to the Catamount Trail one sparkling March day in the Bread Loaf Wilderness, and I jumped at the opportunity to serve with the Catamount Trail Association after graduating and moving to the Burlington area. I believe that every Vermonter should have access to public lands and outdoor spaces, regardless of their means or their level of expertise, and state-wide organizations like the Catamount Trail Association have a role to play in making the outdoors accessible. In serving with VHCB-Americorps and the CTA, I want to get more people out into the winter wilds, whether it’s their first time on skis or they’re racing up Bolton Valley for sunrise. If you like to slide on snow, get in touch!

Jillian Branchaud

NeighborWorks of w. Vermont

I graduated from New York University (class of 2016) and returned to my hometown of Castleton, Vermont about a year later. Coming back has been a big change for me (as was leaving to live in the city), but it has been eye-opening to how beautiful and special my home state is. I’m excited to serve with VHCB AmeriCorps and NeighborWorks of Western Vermont to help create a stronger, healthier, and happier community in Rutland. There’s nothing I’d love more than to see Rutland County thrive again, and hopefully through my service, my efforts can help make a difference in bettering the community and bringing people together.

When I’m not at NeighborWorks, you can find me practicing my photography, videography, and graphic design skills. I graduated with a BA in Cinema Studies, so storytelling through the lens of a camera is one of my passions. One of my other passions is animals, so if you’re looking for a dog or cat sitter, I’d be happy to help you out!

Alexis Kissell

Twin Pines Housing Trust

Like a lot of New Englanders, I grew up with a love for art and outdoors. I started camping, hiking, and skiing at a young age and took as many art classes as I could. Along with being born and raised in New Hampshire I also graduated from Keene State College in Keene NH with a degree in Architectural Design. After a graduated I traveled around the United States working odd jobs from raft guiding on a wild and scenic river in South Carolina to working at ski resorts in Colorado. I did this for about three years before happily moving up to Vermont where I looked forward to settling down for a while.

This is my first time serving as an AmeriCorps member. My host site is Twin Pines Housing Trust in White River Junction Vermont where I am serving as a Project Managers Assistant. I saw joining AmeriCorps as a great opportunity to build experience in my field along with helping to encourage more families to move to the upper valley region. This is very important to me because the more people that love this community as much as I do, the stronger and healthier this area will be. By assisting Twin Pines as they create more affordable housing in the Upper Valley Region, I feel as if I can do my part in making life for a lot of people in this area easier. Knowing that these options exist can also help instill confidence and encourage more people to move here.

Sophia Scoppettone

Champlain Housing Trust

I grew up in Montpelier but went to college in New York, at SUNY Binghamton. After I graduated in May, I wanted to come back to Vermont and settled in Burlington. Serving as the Shared Equity Coordinator at Champlain Housing Trust has given me a new perspective on my home state. I can see how owning a home may be out of reach for many Vermonters. However, through the shared equity program, I am able to help many of these people purchase a home for the first time.

My service has exposed me to a field that I knew virtually nothing about before I began, and I am proud to be spending  my first year as a college graduate giving back to the community with such an innovative program. To me, service just means helping others.

In my spare time, I like to read, write, and play disc golf.

Daphne Okumus

Windam And Windsor Hosing Trust

I was born in Istanbul and lived part of my life in Istanbul, then moved to United States for a higher education after graduating high school. My arrival to the United States happened to be around the time of the September 11 attacks. I was attending ESL classes and waiting for my student visa to be approved, but it was declined due to certain events. Therefore, I had to face a long time of decline in my higher education and professional life. My first year was full of difficulties, such as adapting to new cultural norms and learning a new language. I was given a green card after four and a half years and I have been a citizen of United States since 2012.

When I received my green card, I had a chance to visit my family in Istanbul, after six years of separation. During one of my visit in Istanbul, in 2012, I was inspired by a friend to apply for a private academy that provided training in performing arts. I studied theatre and cinema acting, and voice acting for three years. I also joined a private dance school while I was studying at the academy and learned flamenco dancing for two years and took private flute lessons to nurture my acting skills. I had a chance to work on few independent theatre and cinema projects in Istanbul. In Summer of 2015, I had to leave Istanbul and came back to my home in Vermont. I have been taking classes at the Community College of Vermont since 2015. I have chosen to study the Liberal Studies (A.A.) with a specialization in Global Studies, because I believe that as a person with multi-location experience, this particular program will allow me to gain additional competencies in areas of foreign language; intercultural communication skills, awareness and sensitivity. I also plan to enroll at Mount Holyoke College to study anthropology. In August 2016, I applied for the World Learning SIT (The School for International Training) Graduate Institute’s TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Certificate program. As a participant, I developed skills in teaching, listening, reading, writing, grammar, pronunciation, intonation, vocabulary and cultural awareness, and I had a chance to teach real classes of adult learners of English for a minimum of 6 hours during this course. As an ESL speaker, this was a big achievement for me.

I also worked in retail and food businesses with family members in the United States about ten years. Last September, in 2016, I decided to get a job in a non-profit organization, which is committed to helping special needs children and their families in Windham County in south eastern Vermont for a year. My having lived in different parts of the world has been an incredible experience for me, and made me the person I am today. Therefore, I am highly interested in studying different cultural communities, language, and observing and participating in the texture of social interactions, and learning different ideas about the world. I am always seeking new ways to gain more skills and experience. Last semester, I found out about an internship program in an event at my school. There was a suitable position for me in a local nonprofit organization through AmeriCorps. I have been living in Vermont about eighteen years and I feel it is important to give back to the community that has welcomed me. AmeriCorps is an excellent program that gives participants the chance to gain valuable skills and experience while giving back to the community. I knew then, joining AmeriCorps would be a great opportunity to serve my community.

 

My biggest goal is to become an anthropologist and work with organizations that tackle big human problems, such as overpopulation, poverty and hoping to make world safe for human differences.

 

 

 

 

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