First Class of Youth Agricultural Individual Development Account Program Graduates to Become Some of Vermont’s Newest Farmers
On August 15, a group of 40 people gathered to celebrate the achievement of fifteen of Vermont’s newest farmers as they graduated from the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s Youth Agricultural Individual Development Account Program (Youth Ag IDA). After nearly two years of work and planning, these next-generation farmers have the tools necessary to manage their farm businesses successfully, as productive entrepreneurs.
The students engaged in online and in-person course work on financial literacy and business management, took part in on-farm mentorships, and developed their own comprehensive business plans. The students also took advantage of scholarship opportunities provided by generous funders, attending New England Regional Meat Conference, the Annual Vermont Grazing Conference, Northeast Organic Farming Association’s winter conference, and various field days throughout the state.
“We have had the honor of helping cultivate the next generation of Vermont farmers, helping them become viable members of our state’s agricultural future. The legacy of this new and innovative program will carry on for generations,” said Program Coordinator Ali Zipparo
Graduates include Daniel Brassard of East Randolph, Linnea Burnham of Fairlee, Henry Cammack of Burlington, Rebecca Frye of Chelsea, Ethan Gevry of Addison, David Gringeri of West Haven, Katherine Ham of Sheffield, Kaleigh Hamel of Waitsfield, Austin Jenks of East Burke, Jacob Kellner of Bakersfield, Jonathan Killian of Montpelier, Greg Moore of Danville, Aliza Pickering of Arlington, Siri Swanson of Orwell, and Jacob Walker of Morrisville.
Program participant Linnea Burnham, a Middlebury College alumna originally from Fairlee, Vermont, is working on starting a dairy business. She said “The IDA program has been personally transformative. I have always had a strong interest in farming but the program gave me the confidence and the guidance to focus on my interest, clarify my ideas, and create a viable business plan.”
Also joining the families of the graduating young farmers were several UVM Extension faculty and staff, including the Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s director Linda Berlin and UVM Extension Associate Dean, Dan Lerner. Senator Bernie Sanders sent a letter, read by his agricultural policy and outreach staffer Jenny Nelson, a long-time supporter of the program. Food was generously donated by City Market, Shelburne Farms and Farmhouse Group.
Established in 1994, the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture provides timely information to Vermont communities and the UVM campus. The Center cultivates partnerships, supports innovative research and practices, and informs policy to advance sustainable food and farming systems. Learn more at http://www.uvm.edu/~susagctr/.