Success Stories

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High Pond is set in a deep bowl, surrounded by peaks of the Taconic Mountains of southern Vermont. The trail up to the pond winds through hardwood forest and hemlock stands, up and down smaller hills, gradually climbing up to the rim of the pond basin. High Pond is my favorite preserve that I steward with The Nature Conservancy. The lake is cold and clear. Within a few kicks away from shore it becomes so deep you can no longer find the bottom. With the Taconic’s walling off the lake from the valley, it feels like wilderness.

During this last quarter things changed so much due to the COVID pandemic. We closed completely and only had one educator on site per day which meant that when I was on site, I was completely independent and troubleshooting and issues had to be left up to me. This gave me more confidence and led me to create the portable perch and train all the birds to use it. My supervisors, Anna and Nathan , encouraged me to go for it and it really build up my confidence as a bird handler and bird trainer. It also made me realize I could make a lasting impact on how we handle the birds here.

I had the learning experience of hosting camp. We were leading the campers in fairy house construction, bridge building, and bracelet weaving when we heard a distant rumble of thunder. I gathered my group of campers and we met with the other two pods to prepare for hiking back to thunder camp (which is a tarped area in the lowlands of the forest). My co-lead explained we would be hiking back in the forest line off-trail, sticking to the low areas of the woods

I had one client come in who was very anxious about receiving services from the HRC, they believed that they were not eligble because other members of their community told them that they would not receive help. They were so pleased with how the intake went that they referred me to other members of the community who were also looking for aid.

For my Independent Service Project, I have been spending time each week at the Community Garden, run by Charter House Coalition. This effort first started when I was an intern as a second-year student at Middlebury College, where I spent the summer planting, watering, and harvesting at a beautiful farm along the river. Many years later, the garden has moved locations but is still maintained, with the help of lots of loyal volunteers, to produce a bountiful harvest for the Charter House meal programs

I spent a day in June pulling garlic mustard along the coast of Lake Champlain with a couple of my colleagues from the northern office of The Nature Conservancy. After many bugs had bitten, many beads of sweat had salted the earth, and many garbage bags of garlic mustard had been filled, we sat down on an enormous driftwood log to enjoy our lunch. Towards the end of our lunch break someone suggested that we take two minutes, and each try to sketch, on pieces of slate, a nearby impressively sized cottonwood tree. It was a simple enough suggestion, and took only a brief few moments of our time, but it was incredibly rewarding to sit and appreciate the grandeur of such a large tree and more rewarding still to see what small details each of us chose to focus on in our quick sketching and how each of our personalities might be reflected in those little choices.

So, one of my favorite memories of my service so far has been when I was assisting in putting back together a stone structure along the State House Path. The stone structure is like a half kiva with some large flat stones on top for people to sit on. It rests at the top of a stone staircase and is a major landmark along the trail.

As a stewardship assistant with the Green Mountain Club, my days in the field are defined by the extremes of conservation work: epic views, captivating wildlife encounters, biting insects, and rugged terrain. I am fortunate enough to experience natural areas in ways that most people will never get to experience. It has become my passion and life's work to make sure that everyone can get a meaningful experience from nature whatever that may be.

Being an environmental educator during COVID-19 has been a challenge. I went from taking students out into the woods at the Audubon center to reading picture books and using PowerPoint to give mini presentations on beavers, bats, pollinators and a whole host of other critters. However, COVID has reminded me just how valuable environmental education is for all learners.

I’ve been able to take a leadership role in a project at Rural Edge’s Crystal Lake Apartments in Barton. I first visited the property back in late April with my site supervisor Ann, and the property manager Teresa.

My field service last week was great! I monitored and maintained tree plantings at a restoration site on Tuesday (5/26) and pulled invasive garlic mustard at TNC’s Butternut Hill Natural Area in North Hero yesterday(5/28). Both were very productive and safe days.

My first day as an AmeriCorps member, I built a ramp for Herbert. He had been a contractor, so it was important that all the angles be square, and the supports be strong. He watched us, with a slight smile on his face, most of the afternoon on the three days of work. I am sure he would have supervised us all morning as well, but his wife said the pain meds put him to sleep for a long time. He was not receiving treatment anymore, just medication to ease the pain.

Each AmeriCorps member has the option to "adopt" a senior and perform the volunteer activities themselves. I went out to meet Clara to see what kind of organizing help she needed.

I had the pleasure of organizing and managing our annual CHT Eviction Prevention Program Conference from start to finish.

On the last day of school before the shutdowns, in light rain, I waited for one of the After-School children outside of the cafeteria/gymnasium. I was six feet away from parents waiting for their own children.

Two young women, Luna Shen and Alana Mason, both 23, are VHCB AmeriCorps members on the front lines, serving homeless families at the John Graham Shelter. They are part of a team working around the clock to staff the shelters, deliver food and supplies, and provide services and care to homeless families at John Graham’s sites throughout Addison County.

Every year the food shelf that I serve at, offers a holiday food giveaway in mid-December. Two days after this year's event a woman came into the food shelf hoping that she might be able to get one of the hams we had been giving away. She said that her son had recently passed away, leaving her to care for her two grandchildren. It was going to be the children's first Christmas without their father and the woman did not have the money to afford a large meal.

Smack in the middle of a capitol city with a daunting shortage of housing, the French Block’s vacant upper stories were an unrealized resource. Today, with the lights on at night, there is a new vibrancy to this downtown block and 18 households have found stable, decent, and affordable housing within walking distance of all the amenities this small city provides.

How a small, organic Vermont dairy joined forces with local, state, and federal conservation partners to plan for the future.

Having struggled for years with addiction, Rocky sought help to live a sober lifestyle while living at Great River Terrace in Brattleboro. Knowing that he has a place to come home to every night helps him maintain his sobriety and his full-time job at Against the Grain, a facility producing gluten-free products within walking distance to his apartment.

A collaboration among a host of agencies and organizations to improve Vermont's water quality through outreach to agricultural producers, offering training, education, technical assistance, and investments in conservation practices and improvements to infrastructure on farms.

“It’s a commonly stated truth that “homelessness” is more than the lack of a home. This alludes to the reality that homeless individuals often face a wide range of challenges rooted in their personal experiences that prevent them from being housed sustainably. Histories of addiction, trauma, and mental health disorders are more common than not. Ultimately, all who are homeless carry with them a unique set of factors that led them to a position of being without housing. In consideration of this holistic idea of “homelessness,” the process of addressing these underlying challenges is just as important as developing a sustainable source of income and finding appropriate housing.

The Viability Program's business planning services, VLT's Farmland Access Program and WLEB combine to support a Monkton berry farm's successful transition to new ownership.

I have been trying to put into words how VHCB has inspired me to do my best. But, being the voice of the members, I don’t want to just reflect my experience, I want to try to represent a collective experience. I reached out to other members last week, and I thought there would be some variation, but it turns out that VHCB serves us in really similar ways.

The award recognizes the State for its role in supporting the development of permanent supportive housing at Great River Terrace.

Luke was nominated for being a self-starter, being an innovative presence regarding the organizations policies and procedures, and his contributions in developing actions plans to help older Vermonters stay in their homes.

She has spent much of her time on the road, visiting farms and meeting farmers. Along the way, she is learning from VHCB's network of service providers, from exposure to the NOFA conference, and from co-workers.

Shires Housing used a $3,500 grant to provide cooking classes and community gardening at Cora B. Whitney and Applegate, two housing developments in Bennington.

A majority of VHCB’s farmland conservation projects facilitate transfers to new owners. VHCB’s Farm & Forest Viability Program also provides support to help farmers plan for ownership transition and for farmers looking for farmland. Two recent examples: the O’Neil farm in Hinesburg, purchased by Joe and Emily Donegan, and the Storrs farm in Williamstown, purchased by Jon Wagner-Herbert and Karin Bellemare of Bear Roots Farm.

A recent visit we made to Holyoke Farm in St. Albans underscored how our advising and grant services are helping Vermont farmers realize their business goals and comply with Vermont's Required Agricultural Practices. 

In the context of conservation easements, everything happens for a reason. Each plot of land that VHCB helps protect serves a unique function. Some harbor threatened flora or fauna; some grant grand vistas or display delicate ecosystems; and some provide recreational opportunities such as swimming holes or town parks. The conservation easement protects the land’s character, and our boots-on-the-ground summer field visits maintain the integrity of our legal interest.

As a part time student with full-time commitment in community service, I have recently completed a research project focused on the importance of housing stability for socioeconomic well-being for low-income households including the homeless population, and the positive impact of nonprofit affordable housing developments for disadvantaged communities.

The peaceful waters of the Green River Reservoir are a haven for paddlers and wildlife alike. A VHCB award in 2000 helped The Nature Conservancy and the State of Vermont protect this cherished landmark, a 650-acre reservoir with 19 miles of shoreline prized for its paddling, camping, fishing, and wildlife watching opportunities. A population of loons thrives on the reservoir and the pond’s backwaters provide a nesting area for blue heron.

The 85-acre preserve offers year-round, free access. Visitors can take a self guided tour of the fossils and continue to explore the beautiful former farm fields on longer trails traversing the property.

Everett Thurston, from North Clarendon, is developing his business skills and writing his business plan with his team of Viability Program advisers.

The Nature Conservancy owns and manages 55 natural areas in Vermont, totaling nearly 30,000 acres. Ecologically speaking, these protected areas provide a lot “bang for your buck.” Some of the most spectacular, unique, and rare natural communities and species in Vermont and the Northeast thrive on these lands...

Karie Atherton, owner of Aires Hill Farm in Berkshire, Vermont, received a $40,000 Dairy grant to buy a cow activity & milk monitoring system.

In November 2017, Caleb & Jessie Smith, owners of Dorset Peak Jerseys in Danby, VT, were awarded a $40,000 Water Quality Grant to build a covered barnyard & freestall barn.

“Buying land is one of the most difficult hurdles for new farmers. We were fortunate to work with VLT to secure a farm to own and grow our business. With land of our own it will be easier to plan for the future.” — Paul Lisai

Bree LeMay is no stranger to the Champlain Housing Trust. Having lived in a CHT apartment for the past seven years, she and her 6-year-old son, Niah, are embarking on a new adventure as members of CHT’s newest housing cooperative on Bright Street in Burlington’s Old North End. 

Conservation of a 49-acre farm in Stowe's Nebraska Valley by the Vermont Land Trust and the Stowe Land Trust enabled young farmers Andrew and Annie Paradee to purchase the Kaiser Farm, where they plan to raise vegetables, lambs, and laying hens. More than 200 Stowe households contributed to local fundraising for the project. 

Located one mile from downtown Vergennes is a new neighborhood with 14 net zero, modular homes built in Vermont. Managed by the Addison County Community Trust, McKnight Lane opened in the fall of 2016. Read what resident Alexis LaBerge has to say about the process of finding a new home.

"McKnight Lane was the fresh start that my daughter and I have been searching for the past two years. After some big changes in our lives, I was now on my own to start my life over. I moved back home to get on my feet, something no adult wants to have to do, followed by a rental home with a roommate. Although a step in the right direction, where I lived never truly felt like home, until now." 

June 29th, 2017 was one of the most meaningful volunteer service projects I’ve been on yet. Who’d have thought a group of 5 Real Estate Investment Advisors would be so good at trail maintenance?

This past winter, I received an email from Laura Wilson, Cathedral Square’s Director of Operations, suggesting I connect with another AmeriCorps member. I soon learned that through their service with the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, AmeriCorps VISTA members, Corrine Yonce and Luke Dodge were collaborating on a project titled “Voices of Home” to spread the importance of affordable housing. In their words, “Voices of Home is a storysharing project dedicated to promoting the voices of Vermont's affordable housing residents. We aim to erase the stigma surrounding affordable housing communities and educate our friends and neighbors about the incredible importance of stable, reasonably priced homes in helping people live fulfilling lives. These stories are those of your own communities and the people who live in them.”