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.

Want to join our team?

Kevin Wood

Conservation Trails Project Coordinator

Kevin’s primary passion is to work toward and promote the stewardship of communities and the land around them. Years after graduating from Middlebury College, he returns to Vermont after meandering through field biology work out west, an English degree, and a good tenure in youth development with Scouting. Writing paragraphs like these in third person upsets his delicate midwestern sensibilities, but if you ask him about running, vegetarian recipes, or books, and he’ll have plenty more to say. 

Pronouns: He/him

kevin.wood@vycc.org / (802)560-5886

Kalyn Cook

Conservation AmeriCorps Program Manager

Kalyn comes to VYCC with a well-rounded perspective of what it is like for every new AmeriCorps member. She found her love for the outdoors during her time as an AmeriCorps crew member in Alaska. After her internship she worked on the National Park Service trail crew at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Some of Kalyn’s favorite memories during her time at Rocky were getting to work with the youth corps, while teaching them the skills and knowledge it takes to complete various projects in the backcountry. Kalyn is passionate about conservation and is excited to help new crew members find their own paths, while gaining confidence in themselves and the work they are doing.

Kalyn is from Florida so summer is her favorite season. After work she can be found camping, trail running, dancing to some live music, singing, or visiting a local swimming hole.

Pronouns: She/her

kalyn.cook@vycc.org, (802)560-8990

Michael McDougal-Webber

Build Project Supervisor

Alex is a home repair and remodeling professional with ten years of experience in the building trades. As Build Project Supervisor, he leads pro-crew builders in the construction of 4-season high-efficiency off-grid homes on Vermont skiing and hiking trails. He brings a BA in cultural studies and ten years of heavy involvement in volunteer-led social justice organizing initiatives to the work site. He intends to impart the necessary confidence for a pro-crew builder to earn a living wage on a respectable crew doing dignified – and dusty – construction work.

Pronouns: he/him

Alex.McDougal-Webber@vycc.org / (802) 622.1784

Bill Anderson

Conservation Forestry Project Manager

Bill is passionate about stewarding healthy and resilient forests while assisting corps members in developing skills that will enable them to become future conservation leaders. He brings with him experience from a diverse array of outdoor fields including wildland fire, search and rescue, land stewardship, and guiding. In his free time Bill can be found snowboarding, rock climbing, and exploring the backcountry.

pronouns: he/him

bill.anderson@vycc.org  (802)434-3969 ext 139

Kristen Balschunat

Conservation Water Quality Project Manager

Kristen believes that watershed-scale thinking is a powerful tool to connect people with the land and build community resiliency. She has worked as an environmental educator teaching experiential science to students of all ages at The Wild Center, Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, The Appalachian Mountain Club and The Ecology School. She comes to VYCC most recently from the Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District where she planned and implemented water quality and wildlife habitat projects throughout the Winooski watershed. She is excited to continue connecting people with each other and the land through hands-on projects at VYCC. For Kristen, a perfect summer day includes canoeing on a pond, spotting birds and swimming. A perfect winter day starts with a hot cup of tea and some quiet time knitting followed by a snowy cross country ski adventure.

pronouns: she/her

kristen.balschunat@vycc.org  (802) 560-4624

Rand

Campus Development Operations Manager

Rand believes that everyday is an opportunity for learning and growth. Creating a community that encourages curiosity, imagination and collaboration is something that is important to him. Rand is excited to be back in his home state of Vermont after seven years of living and exploring out west in Colorado and California. With a foundation in Mathematics Education he loves to teach, and create with others. After working as a construction supervisor for Habitat for Humanity Metro Denver he has developed a passion for carpentry, design, working with his hands, and enjoys sharing his knowledge with anyone who will listen. As our Campus Development and Operations Manager, Rand wants everyone who visits or works alongside VYCC to leave with a sense of accomplishment, belonging, and a drive to help others.

When he’s not on campus, he enjoys disc golfing, river floating, and camping in his tiny camper throughout New England.

 

pronouns: he/him

ian.rand@vycc.org     (802) 434-3969 ext 157

Kay Ardel

Administrative Manager

Kay believes spending time outside is the best way to learn more about the places we play, work and live in. She has followed her passion for hands-on experiential learning and access to the outdoors from the high peaks of the Cascades and shores of the Salish sea to the Green Mountains of Vermont and back. Kay has held various titles across many organizations that foster curiosity and build community. She has been a teacher and student of many subjects — which bring her closer to achieving her dream of being a real life Ms. Frizzle! She brings a diverse set of skills, a knack for creative problem solving, positive outlook to her role at the VYCC and would consider herself a “Jill of all trades”. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, split-boarding, camping, and adventuring outside in any way she can with her husband and dog.

Pronoun: she/her

Kay.Ardel@vycc.org | (802)434-3969 ext. 200

William Bentley

Finance Administrator

William seeks to use his 20+ years of business and book retail management experience to support VYCC’s mission and operations. After 17 years away, including working as the Business Manager at Linden Waldorf School in Nashville TN, he returned to Vermont – where his heart has always called home. William is passionate about outdoor recreation, books, americana music, maps, microbreweries, and is a longtime shareholder at Mad River Glen. Ask him about it!

Pronouns: He/Him

William.Bentley@VYCC.org | (802) 434.3969 x121

Lily Bradburn

Community Health Program Manager

Lily is passionate about building community relationships around food, especially if it involves garlic. A transplant from Rhode Island, Lily appreciates how food fosters close knit communities in Vermont. They worked in Middlebury for several years before joining the VYCC, focusing on growing a more resilient food system through harvesting surplus produce and supporting Addison County’s poverty relief efforts. With an education and background centered on food justice, access, and education they are excited to manage the VYCC’s Health Care Share program. Supporting the nexus of youth development, agriculture and holistic health care is a natural fit in their desire for a more equitable food system.

When not gushing over a love for food justice, Lily is usually attempting to improve upon their homemade bagel recipe or consuming all things sci-fi and fantasy.

Pronouns: They/Them

Stephen Cohen

Conservation Build Projects Manager, Staff Board Member

Stephen is inspired by the idea that young people can learn and grow through experiences that expand their horizons and push the edges of their comfort zones. VYCC provides safe opportunities for people to do this and grow as individuals and as a community. Stephen graduated from Georgia State University with a Sociology degree and began his own journey to push his comfort zone. After a variety of trades work and developing a raw dairy goat farm that served the Atlanta area, he voyaged on to Vermont where he served as a VYCC Crew Leader, and subsequently, a Conservation Program Coordinator. After a hiatus from the corps to explore new trades and technical skills, Stephen brings his diverse toolkit to a diverse organization and role. He resides in Montpelier with his wife and small domestic herd. Stephen spends his free time trail running, rock climbing, skiing, and working on his “antique” home.

Pronouns: he/him

Stephen.Cohen@VYCC.org | (802) 434.3969 ext. 135

Naomi Galimidi

Development Director

Naomi joined VYCC’s development team in 2012. In working alongside crews and talking with alumni, Naomi is inspired by the deep and lasting impact VYCC has on each and every Corps Member.

Naomi took a “gap year” of sorts from VYCC to dabble in the marketing agency world and returned to the Corps in January 2019. Her professional experience also includes nonprofit management in Vermont and beyond.

Forever looking ahead to the next cohort of Corps Members, and looking around at the evolving needs of our youth, her work with VYCC’s remarkable community of supporters is at once purposeful and fun!

She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University at Albany, is an avid snowboarder and music lover.

Pronouns: She/Her

Naomi.Galimidi@VYCC.org | (802) 434.3969 ext. 112

Jeremy Gerber

Development Manager

Jeremy believes in the power of an open mind. As Development Manager, he has the pleasure of establishing relationships with VYCC’s vast community of supporters. He understands everyone contributes in their own way and learning why people support VYCC’s mission brings him great joy. He uses an open mind to connect with every person that chooses to give their time, money and resources to help young people.

Through Jeremy’s role at VYCC, he has the opportunity to tell young people’s stories on a daily basis. He enjoys witnessing Corps Members grow into leaders and sharing these transformational experiences with the world.

His past work on conservation crews shaped who he is today. Jeremy is dedicated to helping others find their pathway to personal and professional success.

A New Englander at heart, he believes there is no such thing as bad weather.

Pronouns: he/him

Jeremy.Gerber@VYCC.org | (802) 434.3969 ext. 113

 

Halle Harklau

Conservation Program Manager

Halle believes that laughter truly is the best medicine and that humor can be an effective tool in engaging the community.

Halle grew up and attended college in Ohio where she studied geography and environmental studies. After college, she served as an AmeriCorps member with multiple conservation corps all over the country. Some of Halle’s favorite memories with these corps included camping on a wind farm, watching a bear cub climb an apple tree, and road tripping through Utah’s mighty five. In 2017, Halle was a VYCC Crew Leader and participated in a peer crew. After VYCC she worked at the newly formed Louisiana Conservation Corps. Now back in the Green Mountain State, Halle can be found backpacking, fishing, playing with her dog, or just relaxing in her hammock.

Pronouns: she/her

Halle.harklau@vycc.org | 802-434-3969 (ext. 125)

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 drives Breck in his work. He finds inspiration in the creativity, resolve, and corps spirit that young people bring to VYCC. That VYCC focuses 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 traveling 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, running, apple trees, good books, and fresh powder are all areas of keen interest.

Pronouns: he/him

Breck.Knauft@VYCC.org | (802) 434.3969 ext. 110

Jake Kornfeld

Senior Farm Production Manager

Jake believes that to be interested in food but not in food production is clearly absurd. Luckily, he gets to work with aspiring young farmers to explore that interest and produce delicious food for the Health Care Share. It’s his hope that these young farmers will go on to build a food system that is sustainable, just, and equitable. Jake spent the 2016 growing season with VYCC as a crew leader and was blown away by the dedication of the corps members and their development into an efficient, knowledgeable farm crew. In the few years since Jake has been learning more about growing good food and building good soil on farms all across the Country. After the work day, Jake spends his time volunteering as an EMT in Richmond and trying to get his dog to behave.

Pronouns: he/him

Jake.Kornfeld@VYCC.org | (802) 434.3969

Jennifer Krebs

Senior Conservation Operations Manager

Jenn believes that we can all make a difference through stewarding the land in our community. Jenn’s first job was with a youth conservation corps crew where she spent summer days swinging picks and shovels. This experience took her to Vermont where she studied Natural Resource Management and Environmental Studies. Jenn has since worked all over New England stewarding conserved land. She has worked for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, The Nature Conservancy, and served with Kestrel Land Trust through AmeriCorps. When she is not in the woods you can find Jenn playing volleyball or exploring new recipes.

Pronouns: she/her

Jenn@vycc.org | (802) 560-4677

Maya Littlefield

Farm & Food Program Coordinator

Maya believes that doing hands-on-work and creating community around a shared love of food and planet has the ability to create change and better our day-to-day lives. After graduating from the University of Michigan with degrees in Environmental Studies and Art, Maya made her way out to Colorado where she found her passion for outdoor education while working for Outward Bound. From there, Maya began teaching elementary schoolers in Maine, backpacking with students all over California, and even teaching kindergartners how to downhill ski and rock climb. Additionally, Maya has spent the last few years working on an organic flower and vegetable farm in Northern Michigan. When Maya is not farming or walking around in the woods with kiddos, you can find her sharing a meal with friends and family, downhill skiing, and jumping in every body of water she finds – yes, even at 13,000 ft. Brr!

Pronouns: She/her

Maya.Littlefield@vycc.org

Hapy Mayer

Chief Financial Officer

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 many rescued dogs 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.

Pronouns: he\him

Hapy.Mayer@VYCC.org | (802) 434.3969 ext. 134

Leah Mital

Executive Director

Had Leah spent her teenage years in Vermont, she would have found her way to VYCC earlier in life.  Growing up in New Mexico, Leah explored and made peace with adolescence among the ridges and canyons of the Rockies.  She moved to Vermont to attend Middlebury College and fell equally in love with Vermont.  It’s Leah’s belief that young people seek a sense of belonging to place and community and are eager to contribute and build skills. With this in mind, Leah co-founded Vermont Commons School, where she learned along with students in the classroom, on the trail, and in the community.  Leah’s love of the natural world as habitat and classroom led her to a master’s degree in Ecological Planning at UVM.

Each morning, Leah cracks the shades and begins dreaming about the days’ adventures.  Joining VYCC and its mission feels like both coming home and looking at each day’s possibilities.

Pronouns: she/her

Leah.Mital@VYCC.org | (802) 434.3969

Elise O’Neill

Program Logistics Coordinator

As a Minnesotan who previously worked for WisCorps, Elise O’Neill fits right in as the program logistics coordinator at VYCC. The similar weather, nice people, and an awesome group of passionate corps members are highly familiar. After graduating from UW-La Crosse in Recreation Management, Elise spent one year as an AmeriCorps nature teacher and a season as a crew member with WisCorps. Through new experiences at WisCorps, she soon discovered how capable, strong, independent, confident, and flexible she can be. Elise then spent two seasons at Elk Neck State Park as a naturalist and trail technician, before moving to Cape Cod to explore work in ecological restoration and gardening. She is thrilled to be back in the conservation corps world and to be able to assist in allowing crew members at VYCC to gain the same personal growth and skills she gained as a corps member.

Pronouns: She/Her

elise.oneill@vycc.org | ext. 137

Caitlin Perrier

Program Services Administrator

Caitlin, a FEMA Corps alum, joined the VYCC in 2018 serving as the Program Services Administrator. Caitlin, who grew up in the small town of Enfield, NH where you would often find her on the Field Hockey or Softball fields, grew up making frequent visits to see family in Shelburne and always felt drawn to the greater Burlington area. After attending college in Beverly, MA where she studied both Psychology and Criminal Justice, Caitlin dedicated her time to serving with the first group of FEMA Corps members in 2012 where she spent time in Mississippi, Alabama, and finally Staten Island, NY following Super Storm Sandy. Following her service, Caitlin went on to start her professional career as an Anti-Money Laundering Analyst for financial institutions in Boston and later making the move to do so in Vermont in 2015. Given her years long passion in food quality and policy and her desire to expand her knowledge of how to live a more sustainable lifestyle, Caitlin felt drawn to the VYCC and its mission. She is excited to use her administrative, analytical, research, and organizational skills in order to provide Program Support for the organization.

A self-professed nutrition nerd, Caitlin is passionate about real food and believes in the concept of food as medicine. Caitlin lives right in Richmond and truly feels at home in the greater BTV area. Simply put – she loves the culture. Also of note, she is a plant lover, sunshine junkie, and enjoys simple walks and many varieties of yoga. She likes to spend her time outside of VYCC either the kitchen whipping up her next back of granola bars, or meandering around local farmer’s markets.

Pronouns: She/her

Caitlin.Perrier@vycc.org | 802-434-3969 x130

Patrick Pfeifer

Conservation Program Director

Patrick believes in the power of possibility.

A common thread throughout Patrick’s career is the quest for possibility – whether in the mountains of Arizona managing forest restoration operations, launching multicultural community programs, or reimagining “waste” through research and entrepreneurship.  At all scales, from scrappy start-ups to multi-billion-dollar organizations, in private businesses and non-profits, and from abstract theory to manual labor, Patrick has worked to find alternatives to impossibility.

Patrick gleaned this outlook during his first season with a Corps in the Southwest, observing how perseverance, teamwork, and creative thinking could overcome obstacles.  It was inspiring to see members rise to these challenges and gain their own new perspectives and pathways.

As Program Director, Patrick creates these same types of experiences for youth through growing the program, building partnerships, and supporting a fantastic team to run the program each season.  Patrick enjoys exploring Vermont by ski and bicycle, and operates a small farm with his partner while restoring a 200+ year old farmhouse.

Pronouns: he/him

Patrick.Pfeifer@VYCC.org | (802) 434.3969

Katie Robertson

Food & Farm Program Manager

Katie finds the best way to build community and form relationships is over a delicious meal.  Her passion for growing, cooking, and eating food stems from her childhood growing up on a farm in Iowa. Shortly after graduating from undergrad at Iowa State University, she began her first Conservation Corps experience and was hooked! This eventually led to serving an AmeriCorps term in Montpelier, where she quickly fell in love with Vermont’s natural beauty, agricultural landscape, and food culture. Knowing the hard work and growth that come from an AmeriCorps term, she is excited to watch the impressive accomplishments made by the VYCC team each season.

With an MS in Food Systems from UVM and a background in nutrition education, food security, and food access, Katie is ready to share her passion for food with anyone willing to listen. When not in the kitchen, you can find her spending time with her partner Zach and their two dogs, Arlo and Sage.

Pronouns: She/Her

Katie.Robertson@vycc.org

Daniel Schmidt

Officer of Programming

Daniel began a career in conservation and education way back in 1997, teaching sailing on a small lake in the Midwest. Over the next twenty-some years, Daniel has helped millions (ok, probably not that many) of young people become leaders in conservation and environmental stewardship. As the Chief Program Officer, Daniel helps create dynamic education programs, enhances the corps member experience, and is an invaluable snack connoisseur.

Daniel grew up in Wisconsin and moved between coasts, working as in conservation and science education. He has led research programs in Panamá, taught high school students in Oakland how to dig a latrine, and, most recently, helped build VYCC’s watershed program. He and his wife, Jen, have also spent several years living out of cars, bikes, boats, and backpacks, but always seem to come back to Vermont where the maple syrup, and people, are the sweetest.

Top Vermont experience: swimming in a river, after a long bike ride, but before eating a huge creemee. Can’t be beat.

Pronouns: he/him

Daniel.Schmidt@VYCC.org | (802) 434.3969

 

Aimee Shafner

Recruitment and Alumni Manager

Aimee first came to the West Monitor Barn as a Conservation Crew Member in 2009. After 4 weeks of long days digging in the Vermont mud, she decided that a career in the outdoors was right for her. Since then Aimee has dedicated herself to working with youth all over the country, connecting them to new and challenging experiences. From leading sailing trips off the coast of Massachusetts and backpacking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, she has seen how people rise to the occasion when they commit to trying something outside of their comfort zone. As the Recruitment and Alumni Manager, she can answer all your questions about what VYCC opportunity is right for you. Outside of the barn, Aimee’s favorite activities are cross-country skiing in the winter, maple sugaring in the spring, hiking then eating ice cream in the summer, and baking pumpkin pie in the fall.

Pronouns: She/Her

Aimee.Shafner@vycc.org | (802) 434.3969 x131

 

Justina Soltys

Farm & Food Production Coordinator

Justina is a true lover of all things food: growing it, sharing it, learning about it, talking about it and sitting around a table eating it with others. She loves building strong relationships with folks through the food that she grows, both in and out of the fields.  For the past five years, she has worked on a variety of different farms around the U.S, from Washington State to Long Island. When she is not weeding with her beloved scuffle hoe, you’ll probably find her baking up a storm in the kitchen, working on a crossword puzzle, or running.

Pronouns: she/her

Justina.Soltys@vycc.org

Gen Spellman

Farm & Food Production Coordinator

Growing up on the Eastern end of Long Island, Gen was fortunate to be immersed in an area rich with farming traditions; on the land, her grandparents grew potatoes on and next door to her parents’ general store. She observed how food and land could tell stories across generations and communities from a young age. She has carried those lessons learned and applied them to the subsequent communities she has lived in. Volunteering and working on farms across the country and assisting friends in making their farm or garden dreams a reality. She is grateful to call Vermont home and to have the opportunity to share her passion for farming and food with the VYCC members.

Pronouns: She/her

Gen.Spellman@vycc.org

Susie Walsh Daloz

Food and Farm Director

Susie is honored to continue the transformational work of growing food with youth while feeding our communities through the Health Care Share.

At The Food Project in Boston, The Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, The Conservation Districts in Vermont and various projects in between, Susie connected people to their food, the land, and complex food systems. As the founding Director of UVM’s Farmer Training Program and New American farmer training programs around the country, Susie thrived on supporting all aspiring farmers in building knowledge and skills for a career in sustainable agriculture.

Susie has a BA from Oberlin College and an MS in Food Systems from UVM. She loves the sight of steam rising from the compost pile, the taste of over-wintered spinach in early spring and the humbling feeling that there is always more to learn about farming. Susie lives in Middlesex with her husband, two daughters and one fluffy bunny.

Pronouns: she/her

Susie.WalshDaloz@vycc.org | (802) 434.3969 ext. 136

Keith Warner

Conservation Program Manager

Keith believes that all problems, big or small, can be solved with open and honest conversation. His ability to help a group overcome challenges, and come out the other side stronger, is one key to his success as a VYCC Crew Leader (2017) and Program Coordinator.

Keith grew up in a rural Pennsylvania Dutch community and attended Haverford College. There, he learned the importance of building consensus and trust among diverse people. He has worked at environmental education camps, the Student Conservation Association Adirondacks Corps, and on the Pacific Crest Trail in California. He helped open up the Louisiana Conservation Corps. While the fishing and seafood were phenomenal, Keith missed cold weather and was excited to move back to Vermont in 2019. In his free time, Keith enjoys paddling, fishing, watching sports, cooking, and hiking with his dog, Oscar!

Pronouns: he/him

Keith.Warner@vycc.org | 802-560-4668