VYCC is fueled by an energetic team of talented individuals.

With backgrounds in education, agriculture, backcountry survival, the Peace Corps, and more, the staff at VYCC holds a skillset as diverse as the youth we mentor.

Laura DeMaria

Office and Events Coordinator

Laura has a long history with VYCC starting in 1995 as an impressionable 16 year old. She was immediately drawn to the rich community and confidence that came from life on a trail crew. After two summers as a Corps Member, and in 2001 as Assistant Crew Leader, she got her Bachelor’s degree in Printmaking from Maine College of Art. She moved to Chicago to pursue her creative interests, and ended up in floral and event design and also became a certified Yoga instructor and trainer.

Laura found her way back to VYCC as a Crew Leader in 2012. She brings her talent for creative multi- tasking, customer service, and administrative support to her role as Office and Events Coordinator. In her free time she owns her own floral design business, practices bikram yoga, cooks from-scratch meals, and spends as much time outside as possible.

(802) 434.3969, ext. 200
laura.demaria@vycc.org

Rachel Emus

Food and Farm AmeriCorps Project Lead

Raised in the suburbs of Boston, Rachel found her way to the Green Mountains as an undergrad student at Green Mountain College. Interested in the connections between food and culture, she graduated in 2011 with a B.A. in Sociology & Anthropology and a strong interest in food production. For the next five years, Rachel worked hard on several small-scale vegetable farms throughout New England and northern Italy, specializing in areas of harvest management and place-based education.

Rachel is passionate about addressing food insecurity in our region and believes that putting youth to work on a high-priority project like the Health Care Share serves as a powerful tool for sustainable and long-lasting change. As Project Lead for the Rutland Health Care Share, she is excited to use her skills in food production to improve the lives of people in her community.

When not at work, Rachel tends to the needs of a small off-grid homestead in Pawlet. She enjoys taking her dog for walks, practicing yoga, and cooking food from her garden.

 rachel.emus@vycc.org

Paul Feenan

Paul Feenan

Food and Farm Program Director

A Bennington native, Paul studied sustainable agriculture, community development, and education at UVM and Evergreen State College.

Teaching is extremely important to Paul. He believes that his work in agriculture, education, and coaching has taught him exponentially more than he has taught his students. In particular, working with disadvantaged students and coaching high school basketball galvanized Paul’s core values for working with people.

Paul credits his family for instilling a strong work ethic and the importance of “working hard and smart.” Most importantly, his wife Kirsten and their two children are the foundation and driving force for all of Paul’s work.

(802) 434.3969
paul.feenan@vycc.org

Thomas Hark

Thomas Hark

President Emeritus

Thomas founded VYCC in 1986 and led the organization through immense growth over three decades. A former Crew Leader for the Youth Conservation Corps in Young Harris, Georgia, and Camp Director for the Minnesota Conservation Corps, Thomas is recognized nationally for his vision in making VYCC one of the nation’s leading youth leadership, education, and training organizations.

Thomas received the prestigious Sterling College Environmental Leadership Award in 2009. He serves on the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) Board and chairs the Williston Boy Scout Troop Committee.

Thomas holds a Master’s degree in Experiential Education from the University of Mankato. He is the former Vice President of the Board of the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps (Corps Network) as well as a past Chair of the Catamount Trail Association, Recycle North Board, Mallets Bay Homeowners Board, and the Western Slopes Business Association. He has also served on the Vermont Environmental Consortium Board as well as many others, and was a founding member of the Vermont Alliance of Non-Profit Organizations (VANPO).

In the summer of 2015, Thomas moved into the role of President Emeritus where he continues to be a tremendous asset to VYCC. He serves as a resource and as a mentor, and is the organization’s greatest champion. He lives in Williston with his wife, Dana Hearn-Hark, and their three children, Eli, Zachary, and Rosie.

Rachel Headings

A*C Development VISTA

A Michigan native, Rachel spent her college years traveling, farming and enjoying the breath-taking beauty of Lake Superior. She graduated from Northern Michigan University with a degree in Public Relations, but most of her work focused on sustainability and food systems. She has studied traditional farming techniques in Italy, urban agriculture in Brazil, permaculture in Great Britain and most recently completed a tropical agriculture and media internship in Panama. Rachel strongly believes that communication and cultural understanding are key elements for creating a sustainable future that benefits both people and planet.

After learning about the Health Care Share program, Rachel packed up her bags and moved to Vermont to join the team. As a Development VISTA, her primary role is to support the expansion of the Health Care Share by working with medical partners. She will also support the general efforts and programming of VYCC through fundraising, event planning and engagement efforts.

Rachel is a fan of photography, bluegrass and everything outdoors. This year she hopes to become a proficient paddle-boarder, learn to ski, hike the major mountains and successfully make zucchini bread!

Rachel.headings@vycc.org
802-434-3969 x 114

Emma Homans

Health Care Share Coordinator, AmeriCorps VISTA

 

Emma grew up in an old farmhouse in Huntington, Vermont and fell in love with the state early on. She graduated from Middlebury College with a joint degree in Environmental Studies and Anthropology, which allowed her to study the connections between people, place, and food. Through experiences working on an organic vegetable farm near St. Johnsbury, interning at a non-profit homestead in Vergennes, WWOOFing in Peru, and cooking for others in her college’s Local Food house, her passion for food systems work grew.

Emma first learned about the Farm at VYCC in high school when she volunteered as part of her summer job at Ben & Jerry’s. She now serves at VYCC as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, coordinating the Health Care Share program. Emma most enjoys the ways in which her service allows her to strengthen connections between Vermont agriculture and people from many backgrounds in Health Care Share regions throughout the state.

 emma.homans@vycc.org

Cae Keenan

Caelan Keenan

Farm and Food Program Manager

Caelan was raised in the suburbs and city of Detroit, Michigan and grew up swimming in the Great Lakes. She studied Sociology at the University of Michigan, graduating with honors in 2012 with a focus in hunger, children and poverty alleviation. In March of that year, she drove from Detroit to Montpelier, VT to begin two and half years of AmeriCorps VISTA service in the areas of family support, youth development, and nutrition education.

She enjoyed 18 months of that service as a Food Security Coordinator with The Farm at VYCC, a role that simultaneously challenged and fulfilled her. Today her desire to grow young leaders (just like we grow vegetables) is stronger than ever. She is driven to provide Corps Members with daily opportunities to feel confident and literate in the kitchen and in the field, and to learn what it means to work hard on something that matters.

Cae manages field production, crew projects and Venture Semester programming in VYCC’s Food and Farm program.

Phone & extension
caelan.keenan@vycc.org

Breck Knauft

Breck Knauft

Executive Director

Breck joined the VYCC team in 2008 and became Executive Director in 2016. Helping every young person learn from the beauty, mystery, and challenges of the natural world is what drives Breck in his work. He finds inspiration in the creativity, resolve, and corps spirit that young people bring to VYCC. That VYCC has a deliberate focus on enrolling traditionally underserved populations is especially compelling.

Prior to VYCC, Breck was an outdoor educator and Director at Keewaydin Camp, a classroom teacher and Dean of Students at a small prep school, and a development professional in higher education. He also spent three fun years adventuring out west and travelling the globe before returning to his east coast roots.

Breck holds degrees from Lawrence University and Saint Michael’s College. Outside of work, he lives in the hills of Huntington, where he and his wife Margaret try to keep up with two daughters. Hockey, mountain biking, apple trees, good books, fresh powder, and the occasional zombie movie are all areas of keen interest.

(802) 434.3969, ext. 110
breck.knauft@vycc.org

Prem Linskey

Food and Farm AmeriCorps Project Lead

Prem grew up in a suburb of Massachusetts, and since high school has lived all across the country. He has held a wide range of jobs from cooking in Colorado to farming in Hawaii.

Most recently, Prem worked as a Team Leader for All Hands Volunteer, a disaster relief non-profit organization. During his time with All Hands, Prem coordinated groups of volunteers working on construction projects in Tennessee, Louisiana, Fiji, Nepal, and India. He looks forward to combining leadership skills, construction knowledge, and passion for food and nutrition as a Health Care Share Project Lead with VYCC.

Prem is continuously drawn back to Vermont. His favorite pastime is thru-hiking the Long Trail, and he enjoys fermenting foods, running ultra-marathons, and all things maple.

prem.linskey@vycc.org

Pilar Lopez-Gomez

Conservation Program Coordinator

After graduating from Virginia Tech in 2013 with a major in Environmental Policy and Planning, Pilar spent ten glorious months in Massachusetts with Student Conservation Association, teaching environmental education in schools and maintaining trails around the Commonwealth. Living in this intentional, consensus-based community cemented in her mind how awesome and empowering conservation crews are and influenced her to pursue a career in the corps world. Pilar joined VYCC as a Crew Leader in 2015 and since then has moved to Vermont to enjoy all the maple syrup, darn tough socks and the Burlington Bike Path.

Learning how to communicate with a diverse group of humans, including giving and receiving feedback, is important to Pilar.  She believes in giving all VYCC participants, including herself, the opportunity to practice and improve their ability to express their thoughts and understand how they affect other members of their team. In her role as Field Assistant, Pilar has taken pride in helping Crew Leaders reach their personal and professional goals with constructive feedback and open, honest communication.

(802) 434.3969, ext. 111
pilar.lopez-gomez@vycc.org

Llu Mulvaney-Stanak

Marketing and Communications Director

Llu Mulvaney-Stanak has built their career around creating effective and engaging messaging and outreach that informs, inspires, and moves people to action. Over the last fifteen years, Llu has helped dozens of non-profits, advocacy efforts, and individuals harness the power of digital storytelling through social media, video, podcasting, and radio production.

Llu is a life-long Vermonter, graduate of both Castleton University and the University of Vermont, born in Marshfield, raised in Barre, and has lived in Burlington for nearly twenty years. Llu believes in three core digital truths: anyone can and should make their own media; going “viral” comes from practice or silly luck; bad design will be part of the fall of civilization.

Between Llu’s love of dressing up and zombie shows, it is no wonder their first day was 2017’s Halloween.

Please use Llu’s name or they/them pronouns when referring to Llu.

802.434.3969 ext. 110
llu@vycc.org

Hapy

Hapy Mayer

Finance Director

Hapy joined VYCC in 2015 with over 20 years of finance and operations experience managing Small Dog Electronics, an Apple Computer sales and service company he founded with his father. Hapy has degrees from Northwestern University in Philosophy and Economics. He lives with his wife Jessica and many rescued dogs in their house in Fayston.

Hapy is a USA Hockey Ice Hockey referee and competes as a professional “heavy” athlete in the Scottish Games. Any spare time outside of that, he is honing his craft as an artisan blacksmith at his shop in Fayston.

(802) 434.3969, ext. 134
hapy.mayer@vycc.org

Hans Melhus

Conservation Program Coordinator

Hans was raised in Maine, but has traveled and worked all throughout the US. His passion for the outdoors has driven him to trail work and conservation time and time again. Continually adding notches to his belt, he has worked for conservation corps in Maine, Montana, Utah, Vermont, and Texas. Hans began his time with VYCC in 2013 leading a roving conservation crew. Since then he has worked for the Vermont State Parks and the Student Conservation Association in their Adirondack Program. In the winters, you can find him at Bolton Valley Ski Resort running the lift operations. He is psyched to be back at the barn and ready to get out in the field. In his time off, he enjoys board games, trivia, a good game of dodgeball, and being in the outdoors.

(802) 434 3969, ext. 157

hans.melhus@vycc.org

Dave Meyer

Development Manager

Dave started with VYCC in the Fall of 2016. Having lived in Colorado for the previous 5 years, he is excited to be back in the woods and water of the Northeast. As an Adirondack 46er, Dave learned how important it is to give back to the environment and community that provides us with such opportunities. His experience volunteering on trail crews in the High Peaks taught him the value and tangible benefits of hands on education. Being a member of a team, communicating effectively, and developing solutions to challenges are valued outcomes that he shares with VYCC members.

Dave brings experience working with Conservation Legacy and the BRIDGE Network, an AmeriCorps VISTA program based out of Durango, CO. Serving as Finance Director, he gained extensive knowledge of funding tools and budget/grant management. He is excited to apply his skills towards increasing sustainable funding sources for VYCC as the organization continues to grow.

In his time away from the office, you can likely find Dave out in the woods hiking or down by the river fly fishing.

(802) 434.3969, ext. 113
dave.meyer@vycc.org

Patrick

Patrick Pfeifer

Conservation Program Director

Patrick joined VYCC in 2016 with project management and program development skills along with logistics and operations experience.

Patrick led trail crews with the Southwest Conservation Corps while earning a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Arizona. He pursued a Master’s in Sustainable Communities at Northern Arizona University and launched a composting operation there before starting his own compost business. He then completed a major restoration project on National Forest lands across Northern Arizona.

Patrick is focused on connecting with a diverse network of project partners, and increasing the project capacity of VYCC to expand the organization’s positive environmental and educational impact across the state of Vermont and beyond. He enjoys exploring Vermont’s rolling hills, hardwood forests, mountain bike trails, and many varieties of cheese.

(802) 434.3969, ext. 141
patrick.pfeifer@vycc.org

Ryan

Ryan Riddle

Finance Coordinator

Ryan appreciates the VYCC community for its passion to make the world a better place. He finds it extremely rewarding to be part of the positive impact VYCC programs have in our communities and in the lives of the youth we serve.

Now a resident of Burlington, Ryan grew up in New Jersey and earned degrees in both Spanish and International Economics from Lafayette College. His passion for language and travel led him to volunteer with WorldTeach as an EFL teacher in Ecuador. Upon returning to the United States, Ryan worked with NBC Universal’s Travel & Expense Department.

Ryan particularly enjoys hiking, snowboarding, and reading Calvin & Hobbes collections.

(802) 434.3969, ext. 137
ryan.riddle@vycc.org

Daniel

Daniel Schmidt

Watershed Partnership Manager

Daniel joined VYCC in 2015 as a Farm Team member. Prior, Daniel worked for the Green Mountain Audubon Center as an educator and sugar maker, and at the Community College of Vermont as an environmental science instructor. Back in the 00s Daniel served as an AmeriCorps volunteer at the Catskill Outdoor Education Corps and UC Berkeley’s Public Service Center. He also lived on a sailboat, finished grad school, went on a six-month bike ride, found out his Burmese Zodiac animal is the Garuda and, recently, fell in love with kombucha.

Daniel is involved in Vermont’s mountain biking and backcountry skiing scene and does his best to make sure that VYCC’s trails are well used. Daniel lives in Winooski with his wonderful wife, Jen, and a growing number of fruit trees.

(802) 434.3969 ext. 133
daniel.schmidt@vycc.org

Wyatt Vargas

Operations Coordinator

Native to the Mad River Valley, Wyatt grew up with misty mountain mornings and verdant landscapes beckoning exploration. Wyatt has worked with VYCC as an environmental educator, wildlife research scientist, and trail builder. He has a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology and forestry from the University of Vermont and a master’s degree in natural resources and environmental education from the University of Idaho.

Wyatt believes that conservation and education are important in creating environmental citizens and a healthy relationship with nature. He is passionate about VYCC because of the outdoor and environmental experience it provides to youth, and it is a fun job! Wyatt is part of Vermont’s outdoor enthusiast community through VYCC. He enjoys the smell of cedar, the taste of fresh maple syrup, and the feeling of weightlessness.

(802) 434.3969, ext. 148
wyatt.vargas@vycc.org

Andrew Whitehead

Food and Farm Program Coordinator

After spending the majority of his childhood across the pond in County Wicklow, Ireland, Andrew and his family moved to the US in 1999 to Wayne, Pennsylvania. Andrew studied Sustainable Development at the University of Colorado at Boulder. During college, he developed a passion for community development through food and farming. Andrew quickly realized that he wanted to work in food systems. After graduating, he moved to Vermont.

Eager to become part of Vermont’s thriving sustainable agriculture community, Andrew was instantly drawn to the Food and Farm Program at VYCC. He served as a Crew Leader for the Richmond Community Crew in 2015 and now embraces his role as the Farm’s Program Coordinator.

Andrew is passionate about the Farm’s main project, the Health Care Share, which he finds revolutionary in its own right. He is committed to expanding this important project.

(610) 955.3766
andrew.whitehead@vycc.org

John Woodward

John Woodward

Program Services Manager

John is a native New Englander with 25 years of professional experience in education that includes teaching in Brazil, Qatar, and Thailand, as well as with organizations such as Montshire Museum of Science and Hurricane Island Outward Bound School.

His experiential, environmental, and traditional education philosophies inform his new focus on building VYCC’s presence across Vermont. He believes passionately in the idea of communities investing in their young people, and those young people reinvesting in the health and vibrancy of their own communities.

John loves to spend time romping outdoors with his two daughters, reigniting his desire to learn the bluegrass mandolin, making the perfect BLT, and finding the next great bike ride on the back roads of Vermont.

(802) 434.3969, ext. 131
john.woodward@vycc.org