I have been a part of Vermont agriculture literally my whole life, but academia was a foreign world growing up on the farm. My dad received an Associate’s Degree in Building Technology from Vermont Technical college in the 1970s, so there was a taste of the college experience in our household but that was it. But both of my parents were insistent that I go on to receive a four-year degree, even while I didn’t understand the landscape that was presented in. Enrolling at the University of Vermont, and the Plant and Soil Science major soon after, was a life-changing event that combined my interest in higher education with my farming class upbringing. While I was fortunate to gain important commercial farming experience in the New England apple industry after college, it was my return to UVM in 2000 that allowed me to progress through the ranks; gain my fellow faculty, staff, and students’ trust; and assume leadership for the department as Interim Chair in 2023. I take great pride in this achievement and in the support that I have from everyone on PSS, College of Agriculture and Life Science, UVM administration, and the broader community.
My goals as chair are to continue to grow the majors, minors, and graduate programs to serve Vermont, national, and international students; support faculty in leading world-class research programs in areas of critical importance as we meet the challenges of feeding a growing population on less land, addressing the impacts of climate change; communicate our work with stakeholders bothe within and outside the University; and provide staff, graduate students, and other less-represented members of the PSS family with support for their professional and personal growth. I don’t take the privilege of leading this department lightly.