Alison Kosakowski Conant
Vermont Ag Hall of Fame Announces 2019 Inductees
Essex Junction, VT – The Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame is pleased to announce the 2019 inductees. Now in its 17th year, the Hall has inducted 80 Vermonters to date.
- Emerging Leader: Joanna Samuelson Lidback, The Farm at Wheeler Mountain, Westmore
- Ag Innovator: Marie Audet, Blue Spruce Farm, Bridport
- Lifetime Achievement: Bill Rowell, Green Mountain Dairy, Sheldon
- Lifetime Achievement: Jack and Anne Lazor, Butterworks Farm, Westfield
About the Inductees
Emerging Leader: Stepping Up to Become the Next Generation of Leaders (age 40 and under)
Joanna Samuelson Lidback, Westmore
Joanna is a farmer, agricultural business consultant, 4-H volunteer, and family farm advocate. Together with her husband Adam, she owns The Farm at Wheeler Mountain, a family dairy farm located in Westmore.
Joanna earned a BS in Applied Economics and Business Management from Cornell, and an MBA from Babson F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business. She is currently employed as Business Consultant for Yankee Farm Credit. In this role, she helps dairy farmers with the challenges of developing business, estate, and succession plans.
Her love of farming extends well beyond the boundaries of Vermont. Joanna is a Board Member with the Global Farmer Network – a non-profit advocacy group led by farmers from around the world. She has also testified on behalf of Vermont farmers before the US House and Agriculture Committee and Senate Agriculture Committee in Washington, D.C.
Joanna was honored by the American Jersey Cattle Association with the Young Jersey Breeder Award in 2016. She was an active member of the Agri-Mark Young Cooperators Program and served as a YC Representative from 2012-2015. Joanna is also active in the Vermont Farm Bureau and currently serves as First Vice President of the Orleans County Farm Bureau.
She and Adam are raising three young children together on the family farm.
Ag Innovator: Bringing New Energy, Ideas, and Opportunity to Vermont’s Working Landscape
Marie Audet, Bridport
Marie is a farmer, agricultural advocate, and sustainability leader from Bridport. Marie, her husband Eugene, and their multi-generational family operate Blue Spruce Farm, an Agrimark dairy encompassing more than 3500 acres.
Marie believes farmers are integral to tackling climate change, and has worked tirelessly to raise awareness for on-farm conservation and sustainability here in Vermont.
Blue Spruce was the first farm to participate in Green Mountain Power’s Cow Power initiative. The Audets currently power nearly 400 area homes with the energy captured by the farm’s biodigester. They’ve also installed a 100-kilowatt wind turbine on the farm.
The Innovation Center for US Dairy awarded Marie and her family the first-ever National Award for Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability. Renewable Energy Vermont also honored Marie with the prestigious Jim Grundy award.
Marie is a founding member of the Champlain Valley Farmers’ Coalition, where farmers of all types and sizes are dedicated to protecting water quality and soil health, while building resiliency from the effects of climate change. Joining forces with the Franklin & Grand Isle and Connecticut River farmer water quality groups, they are developing a system that could potentially monitor, evaluate, and monetize ecosystem services provided by agriculture.
Marie and Eugene raised their two children on the farm, and today enjoy sharing family time on the farm with their grandchildren.
Lifetime Achievement: 30+ Years of Outstanding Service to Vermont Agriculture
Bill Rowell, Sheldon
Bill is a dairy farmer and agricultural advocate from Franklin County who farms together with his brother’s family, Brian, Tammy, Matthew, and Megan at Green Mountain Dairy Farm in Sheldon.
Bill has played a leadership role in Vermont agriculture for many years. He was raised on a dairy farm in Albany Vermont during the 1950’s and 60’s, served in the U.S. Navy as an air traffic controller, Vietnam era, and was honorably discharged. He received his undergraduate degree in History and Political Science from Johnson State College, and attended graduate school at Old Dominion University in Norfolk Virginia, where he studied urban and environmental planning.
In an effort to give the general public an opportunity to visit and understand today’s farm, Green Mountain Dairy has hosted tours for more than 31,000 visitors from 44 countries over the past 12 years.
In 2008, Green Mountain Dairy was named Vermont’s Dairy Farm of the Year. Bill was appointed by Governor Douglas to serve on Green Mountain Power’s Executive Committee for Rural Development and is a founding member and board chair of Vermont Dairy Producer’s Alliance. He served as chairman of National Dairy Producer’s Organization, was a member of Vermont’s Dairy Task Force, and was a founding member of Dairy Farmers Working Together.
Bill has spent countless hours advocating on behalf of farmers and agriculture, from Montpelier to Washington, D.C. He and his wife Nancy are proud parents and grandparents.
Lifetime Achievement: 30+ Years of Outstanding Service to Vermont Agriculture
Jack and Anne Lazor, Westfield
Jack and Anne Lazor began farming in 1976. For more than forty years, they have built a reputation for producing outstanding organic yogurt, stewarding the land, and advocating for organic agriculture.
Their Butterworks Farm grass-fed yogurt is sold in nearly 80 groceries and coops across Vermont and in neighboring states. Together with a dedicated team, they produce some of the finest organic yogurt available.
Anne and Jack have been a steadfast team in farming, family, and life. Jack is a teacher and a member of the “Agrarian Elders,” a group of twenty-four pioneers considered to be the founders of organic agriculture in the U.S. Over the years, both he and Anne have devoted themselves to teaching the next generation of farmers how to raise animals, steward the land, and produce products ethically and sustainably.
Farming is a family affair for the Lazors, who raised their daughter, Christine, together at Butterworks. Today, the Lazors enjoy sharing their love of agriculture, and Butterworks Farm, with their grandchildren.
About the Vermont Ag Hall of Fame
More than forty Vermonters were nominated for the 2019 Vermont Ag Hall of Fame. The 2019 judges include:
- Clara Ayer: 2018 Vermont Ag Hall of Fame “Emerging Leader” honoree
- Sam Cutting, IV: President of Dakin Farm, CVE Board of Directors
- Kate Finley-Woodruff: lecturer at UVM, Associate Dean of the College of Ag and Life Sciences
- Jolinda LaClair: Former Vermont Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, former State Director of USDA Rural Development for VT & NH; and former State Director for U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords
- David Lane: Senior Vice President of Yankee Farm Credit, former Vermont Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, owner of Snow Valley Winery
- Joe Tisbert: President of the Vermont Farm Bureau, co-owner of Valley Dream Farm
- Mary Peabody: founding Program Director for the Women’s Ag Network (WAgN) and the UVM Extension New Farmer project
To reflect the evolving face of Vermont agriculture, beginning in 2018, the Hall began honoring outstanding individuals in three categories: Emerging Leader, Ag Innovator, and Lifetime Achievement. Prior to 2018, the Hall primarily focused on Lifetime Achievement, exclusively.
Inductees will be honored at a luncheon at noon on August 28th at the Champlain Valley Expo. To purchase tickets or to sponsor the luncheon, please contact Tim Shea at TShea@CVExpo.org.
The Ag Hall of Fame, located inside the Miller Building at the Champlain Valley Expo, can be viewed during the Champlain Valley Fair, and other Expo events throughout the year. Nominations for next year’s Hall of Fame class will be accepted beginning in January of 2020.
About the Champlain Valley Expo
The Champlain Valley Exposition is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization with a mission of serving the people of Vermont and the region by promoting agriculture, education, arts and culture, commerce and entertainment activities. Since 2003, the Expo has hosted the Vermont Ag Hall of Fame, which honors Vermonters who’ve made significant achievements to Vermont’s working landscape. https://cvexpo.org/