Alumni Experiences

Mark Phillips, 2019

The holism of the program really stood out to me – I really appreciated the diversity of content and the broad overviews (beginning with systems thinking and agroecology) and then the nitty gritty details revealed through our site visits. I’m grateful that social equity and inclusion are a formative part of the course (and don’t just receive lip service). I had high expectations, and this course met them!

Chelsea Frisbee, 2018

I recommend this course for anyone currently working in the food system or interested in learning more about our food system. I found it energizing and refreshing to broaden my perspective of food systems change, and I learned a lot from my fellow students as well as the amazing professors.

Emily Getty, 2018

This course has given me the opportunity to elevate my perspective, open my awareness to other actors in the food system, and engage while thinking about the power of leverage points. A wonderful opportunity to sense the system before taking action on my own, to understand where the collective stands, and where we are heading as a regional food network.

Sylvia Grove, 2018

Highly relevant to professionals as well as nonprofessionals. You somehow managed to change my perspective on leadership, the food system, and activism, all in one course.

Cara Stapleford, 2018

Be prepared to learn a lot in a short amount of time. At times it can feel overwhelming and it’s a lot to process but it is worth every second!

Jennifer Sun, 2018

This course is a life change event for me. Not only it provides a great opportunity for me to meet new professionals and friends, I also get a full taste of different scales of the food system models in the VT region, and that open my eyes to a new holistic view of the food system.

Majd Abdulla, 2014

I see myself paying back by passing this information to people who want to devote themselves to help our food system be healthy, profitable, and viable.

Sara Clow, 2014

Ultimately it helped me to stay inspired about what I’m doing locally. I see myself continuing to expand the system we’ve created through the food hub locally and regionally… and to help farmers and bring more awareness to folks about the importance of supporting the people who grow and harvest our food.

Christine Greene, 2014

I was already growing a lot of our own food and was involved in the development of our community farmers’ market. So when I read about the program, I knew it was for me. The program was a perfect fit for my lifelong interests and it gave me a bigger deeper view of how food systems work and ways to effect the very necessary change we need in our highly industrial one. I also thought it would be great place to meet other like-minded people from different parts of the country.

Jennifer Noll, 2013

I chose to attend this program because I know how significant Vermont’s contribution to the local, sustainable food system dialogue has been. By going to the source, I hoped to gain a deeper understanding of the best practices at work in Vermont and determine their scalability to other locations, including my own (I live in central Ohio).

I recently completed graduate studies in city and regional planning and am pursuing full-time employment. In the meantime, I serve on a local food policy council and a regional food policy council, where I have the opportunity to share ideas and contribute to the conversation on issues of access, outreach, and sustainability.

My professional goal is to effect change in my community, while making a living as a food-systems planner, dedicated to promoting policies that support a sustainable regional food system. Such positions have been successfully introduced into cities like Baltimore, Maryland; I hope that we can demonstrate the need for similar roles here and throughout the country.

Larissa Barry, 2012

I chose [this program] because it was highly related to my personal interests, as well as my career path. Thinking about things from a systems perspective is always useful, so having some technical information for that is something I employ almost daily. I’m currently advising our local food network’s strategic planning process.

Val Forrest, 2012

I wanted to learn more about the practices of business and industry and what part they play within our food system. This program did not disappoint me. I was introduced to professionals from around the country, as well as internationally, and was amazed at their depth knowledge, and passion for leading people toward change. My hope is that in five years, the general population will begin to understand the inter- connectedness of our food systems. I plan to be teaching, through various sources, the SEED model, which allows people to grasp the importance of sustainable practices and see how their actions can make a personal, local, or global difference.

Dillon Hendrick, 2012

I was excited to get together with like-minded people to learn more about food systems, a topic I’m passionate about, but have had a hard time finding places to study academically. I’m running a sustainable homestead and collaborating on a mini-course on Food & Social Justice at the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work. I hope to help prepare outgoing Social Workers to work in the Food Movement.

In five years, I hope to be teaching a full semester long course on Food & Social Justice and working with colleagues to build a canon of Food Justice research and case studies.

Zoe Loyd, 2012

I gained a valuable network of sustainable food workers, upon which I’ve continued to build through my work. I have used this network to learn about challenges and opportunities to advance the sustainable food movement.

Linda Phillips, 2012

In five years, I hope to be the special projects coordinator for Foodlink, our regional food bank with a mission to “end hunger and leverage the power of food to build a healthier community.” I will have had the opportunity to work on the operations side of a food system business, initially overseeing compliance with new food safety requirements and the opportunity to build relationships and to transform supply chains into value chains maximizing the benefits to all as we as build the food system we want – a healthy, fair, affordable, sustainable food system. Or perhaps I will be a community organizer with the Worker Justice Center organizing agricultural and other low-wage workers (87 percent of food chain workers) and raising awareness of the impacts of our food choices, especially the conditions of dairy workers supporting the “yogurt boom” in New York state.