Essex Junction, VT – The Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame is pleased to announce the 2020 inductees. Now in its 18th year, the Hall has inducted 85 Vermonters to date. Some 20 Vermonters were nominated for consideration for the 2020 Vermont Ag Hall of Fame. Due COVID-19 restrictions and the cancellation of the 2020 Champlain Valley Fair, the 2020 inductees will be celebrated the 2021 Champlain Valley Fair lunch; along with those inducted in 2021.
2020 Lifetime Achievement: This category recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to the advancement, improvement, or development of Vermont agriculture over the course of their long career. Nominees shall have played an active role in Vermont agricultural issues for at least 30 years.
- Harold J. Howrigan, Dairy farmer, Sheldon.
- Jacques and Pauline Couture, Missisquoi Valley Farm, Couture’s Maple Shop and B&B Westfield, Vt.
- Alan Curler, (deceased) Agriculture lender, consultant, AI technician, herdsman and farmhand in New Haven, Vt.
2020 Emerging Leader: This category highlights individuals who are stepping up to become the next generation of agricultural leaders in Vermont. Age 40 or younger, these individuals demonstrate a deep commitment to Vermont’s working landscape and are poised to lead Vermont’s agriculture community into the future.
Abbie Corse, Dairy farmer in Whitingham.
2020 Ag Innovator: Individuals in this category have demonstrated a fresh and forward-thinking approach to agriculture. They are making a significant, positive impact on Vermont, in areas such as growing the local economy, promoting stewardship and conservation, improving community health and nutrition, or developing new tools and practices, among others. They are notable for their unique perspective and unconventional approach.
- Reg Chaput, Dairy farmer in Derby, Vt.
The annual in-person induction ceremony has been delayed due to the COVID-19 health crisis which canceled The Champlain Valley Fair and related events. Inductees will be honored at a luncheon at the 2021 Champlain Valley Fair. For more information, visit https://cvexpo.org/hall-of-fame/
About the Inductees
Lifetime Achievement Harold J. Howrigan Jr. of Sheldon has made a significant impact in Vermont’s dairy and maple industry. He is a respected leader across the agricultural industry, following in the footsteps of his father, Harold Howrigan Sr. who was inducted to the Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2004.
Nominators cited his “integrity and perseverance to support the dairy community and maple producers through selfless giving of his time to improve the overall health of Vermont’s agricultural community.”
Harold has been a lifelong dairy farmer and serves locally, regionally and nationally on various industry boards to advocate for the interests of Vermont’s dairy industry and dairy farming families. He currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Dairy Farmers of America Northeast Area Council. Harold was elected to the St. Albans Board of Directors in 2009 and served as its President in 2016. He was instrumental in the leadership of the St. Albans Cooperative during the most challenging period and led the board and members to its merger into Dairy Farmers of America.
Harold has also served as director of Franklin County Maples Cooperative, and on the Vermont Dairy Promotion Council, New England Dairy Promotion Board, Green Mountain Dairy Farmers Board, United Dairy Industry Association, Dairy Management Inc., and the Advisory Board of the Vermont Milk Commission. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture also appointed him to serve on the National Dairy Promotion Research Board.
Lifetime Achievement: Jacques and Pauline Couture of Westfield, have been mainstays of Vermont agriculture since 1970, operating the 425-acre Missisquoi Valley Farm in Westfield, Vt., with 70-plus milking cows. The family farm has been certified organic since 2007. They also operate the successful Couture’s Maple Shop and Bed & Breakfast, selling their world-famous Vermont maple syrup, harvested from 7,500 taps and promoting Vermont agri-tourism.
Over the decades, Jacques has worked hard to ensure Missisquoi Valley Farm is sustainable and productive, even in the toughest of economic times. Coupled with the support and expertise that Pauline brings to all facets of the operation, from field to barn to their store and B&B, they are a formidable force in making Vermont agriculture the best it can be.
Their service goes well beyond the boundaries of their 425-acre farm. It extends to Jacques’ work in financial services that support agricultural businesses statewide, to the couple’s volunteer work in conservation, scouting, church programs, 4H, FFA, USDA and more. Jacques and Pauline are recognized leaders in the Vermont Sugar Makers Association and were named 2014 Outstanding Sugar Makers of the Year.
As one nominator noted, “they selflessly support Vermont agriculture as a way of life. Over the decades, the Coutures have worked closely with industry trade groups and environmental agencies to ensure the survival of their farm as well as others throughout Vermont.”
Their farm is conserved by “Vermont Farmlands For The Future” and is a New England Green Pastures winner. They are working with a young, eager business partner, Dave Myers, who came on board in 2013 to help ensure the continued success of the farm after they retire.
A testament to their hard-work and love of family, the Couture’s celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last year and have six children and 12 grandchildren.
Lifetime Achievement: Alan Curler of New Haven was best known in the agriculture community as a selfless volunteer, always working the grill at the Dusty Chuck 4-H food booth at the Addison County Fair and Field Days. It was just one of countless agriculture organizations he served including the Vermont Dairy Industry Association, FFA, 4-H, Eastern States Exposition, the VTC Alumni Association, and the Vermont Farm Show.
Helping others to understand the importance of farming and agriculture to Vermont was at the heart of everything he did, according to one of his nominators. “Through his participation over time he has conveyed the importance of agriculture (and volunteering) and it has impacted the paths that our lives have taken.”
Alan held many ag-related jobs throughout his life and career. He began as a boy, working alongside his father and brothers on Addison County dairies. From that point he continued on as a farm hand, herdsman, AI technician, lender, consultant and Extension representative. His greatest impact on Vermont agriculture came through his many decades as a consultant and lender within the USDA, Chittenden Bank, and Vermont Economic Development Authority.
It was not lost on any of the farmers Alan worked with just how much he cared about the success of Vermont agriculture and them, as farmers and individuals. There are countless stories from those he worked with about how much he helped them through difficult times, about how he would just stop in (sometimes riding up on his Harley) to see how things were going for them, and about the efforts he made to help them be successful, both in his official capacity and efforts off the clock.
Emerging Leader: Abbie Corse of Whitingham is a sixth-generation dairy farmer who works alongside her parents Leon and Linda on the family’s 270-acre farm in Whitingham. She is the farm’s successor and is instrumental in guiding the future of Corse Dairy Farm in a sustainable direction.
Organic and sustainable farming has always been important to Abbie. She helped her parents transition Corse Dairy Farm to organic in 2008 on the 140th anniversary of the farm, and in 2013 helped secure a permanent conservation easement for the land through the Vermont Land Trust. She promoted the 2016 solar array on the barn roof which now provides nearly all the farms’ electricity.
She was instrumental in convincing her father to become Vermont’s first Dairy Grazing Master, as part of the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Program, where he mentors beginning farmers. She is very involved in hosting and training the apprentices.
Abbie is also involved with a number of agricultural and environmental organizations, including the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board,/Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program Advisory Board, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, Dairy Advisory Council, and the Vermont Act 250 District 2 Environmental Commission. She also serves on the board of directors for Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA). She is the only dairy farmer on the board. In 2019, Abbie was recognized as one of Vermont’s 40 most accomplished young leaders under the age of 40 by Vermont Business Magazine, receiving its Rising Stars Award. She is the only dairy farmer to ever have received the award.
Ag Innovator: Reg Chaput of Derby started milking cows in Beebe Plain, Vt., and over a 40-year career in dairy he has provided the leadership to develop and expand Chaput Family Farms (CFF) into a 900-cow operation that adopts new technology in the production of high quality milk. His farm was an early adopter of methane digestion, cover cropping and dragline manure application, all of which demonstrate a commitment to soil health and water quality. CFF was the first Vermont farm to secure a Large Farm Operation permit in 1996.
Reg serves in leadership positions on the Dairy Farmers Association board, the Green Mountain Federation board and the Vermont Milk Commission. DairyVision VT was the brainchild of Reg. Although short lived, the new program provided 10 farms in-depth business analysis from technical experts from throughout the northeast.
Reg’s leadership in the resurrection of the Vermont Dairy Conference provided the energy and organization to develop an educational program that is respected throughout the northeast. He regularly offers his expertise and experience to help legislators learn more about agriculture and provides information to the press about agricultural topics.
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 have made significant achievements to Vermont’s working landscape. For more information, visit https://cvexpo.org/hall-of-fame/