Vermont Ag Hall of Fame Announces 2020 Inductees

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/

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Vermont Ag Hall of Fame Announces 2019 Inductees

Contact:
Alison Kosakowski Conant
802-825-1312
alisonkosakowski@gmail.com

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.

2019 Inductees

  • 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.

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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/

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Vermont Ag Hall of Fame Announces 2018 Inductees

Contact:

Alison Kosakowski Conant

AK Conant Communications

802-825-1312

alisonkosakowski@gmail.com

Vermont Ag Hall of Fame Announces 2018 Inductees

 

Essex Junction, VT –  The Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame is pleased to announce the 2018 inductees. Now in its 16th year, the Hall has inducted 75 Vermonters to date. To reflect the evolving face of Vermont agriculture, for the first time this year, the Hall will induct outstanding individuals in three categories: Emerging Leader, Ag Innovator, and Lifetime Achievement.

Emerging Leader: Stepping Up to Become the Next Generation of Leaders (age 40 and under)

Clara Ayer, East Montpelier

Clara is a third-generation dairy farmer and family farm advocate. She works alongside her family at Fairmount Farm, where she wears many hats – from overseeing human resources for their staff of fifty employees, to bookkeeping, to marketing, and events management. She plays an active role in shaping agricultural policy through her advocacy at the Vermont Statehouse, and in Washington D.C. as part of her work as an Agri-Mark Young Cooperator and member of the National Milk Producers’ Federation. She currently serves as the secretary of the Vermont Holstein Association, and is a delegate of both Vermont and New England Dairy Promotion. Clara also created and manages a “Life on the Farm” summer camp for youth, which offers kids the opportunity to experience agriculture through fun, educational on-farm activities. Clara graduated from Cornell University in 2010 with a B.A. in Dairy Science. She and her husband Dana are excited to be raising their two-year-old son, Carson, on the family farm.

 

Ag Innovator: Bringing New Energy, Ideas, and Opportunity to Vermont’s Working Landscape

Beth Kennett, Rochester

Beth is a dairy farmer and innkeeper who helped forge the path for Vermont’s agritourism industry.  For more than 30 years, she has helped educate Vermont farmers, government officials, and the public about the economic, social, and educational benefits of agritourism. As the former president of Vermont Farms!, she has traveled and spoken both nationally and internationally to build awareness for agritourism and create new opportunities for Vermont farmers. Her tireless outreach and desire to educate has enabled many farms to diversify and realize the economic advantages of connecting directly with the public.  Since 1984, Beth, her husband Bob, and three generations of her family have opened their home for farm stays, providing educational, hands-on vacations for thousands of domestic and international guests .

 

Lifetime Achievement: 30+ Years of Outstanding Service to Vermont Agriculture

Robert Foster, Middlebury

Robert is a partner in Foster Brothers Farm, a fifth-generation dairy, who served on the Agrimark Board of Directors for 37 consecutive years, before retiring in 2015. He also chairs the University of Vermont, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Board of Advisors. Sustainability has always been one of Robert’s passions. Foster Brothers Farm was the first in the state to install and operate a methane digester. Robert is also co-owner and operator of Vermont Natural Ag Products, a sustainable business which supplies wholesale products, formulated from cow, horse and poultry compost, to the horticultural, agricultural, and turf industries. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Soil Health Institute. Within the Agrimark Co-op, Robert has been a champion for renewable energy and sustainability, helping to pioneer the Vital Capital Index, which helps member farms measure and manage their impact on their community, the environment and their bottom line. He has been a tireless advocate for Vermont agriculture, and a mentor and leader to young farmers, over the course of his prestigious career. Together with his wife, Nancy, he has three grown daughters; Robin Cole, Jennifer Foster, and Heather Foster-Provencher, and six grandchildren.

 

Lifetime Achievement: 30+ Years of Outstanding Service to Vermont Agriculture

Enid Wonnacott, Huntington

Enid has served as the Executive Director of The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) since 1987. Over the course of her tenure, thanks to her leadership, Vermont’s organic industry has grown immensely, from just 57 certified farms in 1990, to more than 700, today. Enid has worked tirelessly to help ensure all Vermonters have access to local, organic foods, and began a pioneering farm share program more than 20 ago to provide subsidized farm shares for low-income Vermonters. As the National Organic Program was developed, Enid worked to implement a national certification program that kept the needs of Vermont’s family farms at the forefront. Over the past three decades, she has nurtured and guided more than 70 staff and 20 interns, secured consistent grant and donor funding, and led NOFA-VT to become a national leader in organic advocacy, food access, and farm to school education. She has made an indelible mark on both the local, and national, organic movement. Enid grew up in Weybridge, and has lived on a small farmstead in Huntington with her husband, Harry, and children, Lila and Eli, for the past thirty years.

 

Inductees will be honored at a luncheon at noon on Wednesday, August 29th at the Champlain Valley Exposition (CVE). Anson Tebbetts, Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture, and Chuck Ross, Director of UVM Extension, will emcee. To purchase tickets or to sponsor the luncheon, please contact CVE at (802) 878-5545 or reception@cvexpo.org

The Ag Hall of Fame, located inside the Miller Building at CVE, 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 2019.

 

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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 CVE has hosted the Vermont Ag Hall of Fame, which honors Vermonters who’ve made significant achievements to Vermont’s working landscape.  https://cvexpo.org/

About AK Conant Communications

Alison Kosakowski Conant is a communications consultant who works with local businesses and non-profits to craft clear, effective messaging that drives action, loyalty, and engagement. She offers strategic communications, PR, event planning, and creative content services. https://akconant.com

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