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?

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

Stephen Cohen

Program Logistics Manager

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. 137

Laura DeMaria

Administrative Manager

Laura believes that through moments of discomfort – when we find ourselves in places and around people who challenge us – we face our true nature and can grow the most as humans. This is life on a VYCC crew!

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. Laura has been a VYCC Corps Member, Assistant Crew Leader, and Crew Leader.  She earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Maine College of Art, and is a certified yoga instructor. Laura brings creative multi-tasking, eye for detail, customer service, and people support to her role as Administrative Manager.

In her free time, she owns her own event floral design business “Unfurled,” practices hot yoga, cooks from-scratch meals, and spends as much time outside as possible.

Pronouns: she/her

Laura.Demaria@VYCC.org | (802) 434.3969 ext. 200

Justin Geibel

Conservation Water Quality Project Manager

Justin comes to VYCC with a wealth of experiences in youth development, conservation, and environmental science. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from University of Vermont in Environmental Science and Plant and Soil Science. He has worked as an outdoor adventure guide, Conservation Technician, Park Ranger, and in a variety of other outdoor jobs along the way. Justin is always striving to become a better mentor, teacher, and conservationist.

Originally from the “Nawth Shaw” of Massachusetts, Justin has lived in Australia, Michigan, New York, and Colorado, but during all of his travels he always felt the magnetic pull of the Green Mountain State. Along with his wife Mary, their dog Tayo and cat Nagini, Justin lives in Westford, Vermont and loves to run on the winding, hilly dirt roads of the Vermont countryside. You may also find him on skis in the backcountry, at a running event, or bagging sections of the Long Trail. Even more likely, you can find him on a soccer field somewhere, as a player or coach, indulging in his first love.

Pronouns: he/him

Justin.Geibel@VYCC.org | (802) 434.3969 ext. 133

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

 

Jake Kornfeld

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 ext. 139

Halle Harklau

Conservation Coordinator

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)

Lauren Jones

Health Care Share Coordinator, AmeriCorps VISTA

Lauren developed a love for cooking, growing food, and tying both into the realm of environmental sustainability at a young age while growing up in Buffalo NY. After completing her undergraduate degree in Environmental Science at the University of Vermont, she made her trek out to Jackson WY to discover what the connections between food and community were like out west. She spent some time working for Slow Food in the Tetons, running the local farm stand, teaching kids cooking classes and building a stronger understanding of the importance of connecting the community to healthy food sources. Following a desire to move back east, she found her way back to Vermont. She quickly discovered an interest in the Farm at VYCC and the Health Care Share, where she looks forward to strengthening the connections between community, easy access to healthy local food, and improving health through diet.

During her free time, you can find Lauren spending time in the mountains skiing and biking, and experimenting in the kitchen at home.

Pronouns: She/Her

Lauren.jones@VYCC.org | (802) 434.3969

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 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

Jess Laporte

Community Health Program Manager

A native Vermonter, Jess grew up in a big family that took advantage of all the free fun there was to find in the rivers, mountains and snow that Vermont has to offer. In true Vermont fashion, she was raised with a love and loyalty to all things local and is excited to join VYCC’s Farm & Food Team in increasing access to the local food system. While studying International Relations at Tufts University, Jess traveled to Haiti to get her feet on the ground in Global Health and ended up spending the next 5+ years there developing a deep connection to the people she met along the way. Her professional experience has centered on cross-cultural collaboration and capacity building in a wide range of social enterprise models. Jess is excited to share her experience leveraging market mechanisms to solve public health challenges with the groundbreaking VYCC Healthcare Share program.

Pronouns: she/her

Jessica.Laporte@VYCC.org | w: (802) 434.3969 | c: (802) 448.0650

Pilar Lopez-Gomez

Conservation Program Manager

Pilar is inspired by all the members, leaders and full-time staff at VYCC who devote themselves to making lasting impacts and positive change on Vermont and each other. Being on crews has combined many of Pilar’s favorite things; making fires, eating, reading, telling bad jokes, seldom showering, snacking, building amazing things by hand and going to bed really early.

People who are on crews are also Pilar’s favorite: hard-working, compassionate, creative, gritty, goofy and selfless. As Conservation Program Manager, Pilar loves being able to give all Corps Members the ability to participate in this life-changing experience, to support them as they are pushed outside their comfort zones and grow as leaders and humans.

Pronoun: she/her

Pilar.Lopez-gomez@VYCC.org | (802) 434.3969 ext. 111

Hapy

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

Hans Melhus

Conservation Program Coordinator

Hans takes pride in making sure that VYCC crews have the best tools, both literal and figurative, throughout their season. He values taking personal responsibility and the importance of hard work.

His passion for the outdoors drives him to conservation and trail work time and time again. Hans began his time with the VYCC in 2013 Crew Leading a roving conservation crew. Before coming back as a Field Assistant in 2017, he worked for the Vermont State Parks, Student Conservation Association (Adirondack Program), and the National Park Service (Acadia National Park).

Hans grew up in the foothills of Maine, and has worked for conservation corps in Maine, Montana, Utah, Vermont, and Texas. In his off time, he enjoys board games, trivia, dodgeball, and recreating in the outdoors.

Pronouns: he/him

Hans.Melhus@VYCC.org | (802) 434.3969 ext. 135

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 ext. 141

Jennifer Seredejko

Conservation Operations Manager

Jenn’s first job was with a Youth Conservation Corps crew where she spent summer days swinging picks and shovels or pulling invasive water chestnut. This experience took her to Vermont where she earned two degrees from Green Mountain College: a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Management and a Bachelor of Arts in 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 on the volleyball court, at home with her 2 indoor rabbits, or searching for the most delicious doughnut.

Pronouns: she/her

Jenn.Seredejko@VYCC.org | (802) 434.3969 ext. 148

Claire Powmesamy

Conservation Field Supervisor

Claire joins VYCC as a Field Supervisor for the 2020 field season, after a varied career in the outdoors. She grew up in New York City, and got her introduction to meaningful physical labor through amateur farming/rock-moving/sign-painting/hay-hauling in Alaska, and via some magical seasons as a crew member with a conservation corps in Colorado. She has spent the last several years working as a wildland firefighter with the US Forest Service in Idaho. Claire previously worked as a public school English teacher in Tokyo, and looks forward to combining her love of extreme landscaping with her passion for experiential learning in this new role. She is excited to be returning to the corps world, and can’t wait to explore Vermont!

Pronouns: She/her

Claire.Powmesamy@VYCC.org | c: (719) 239-4142

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 | Cell: 802-448-0627

 

Keith Warner

Conservation Program Coordinator

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 | 802-434-3969 ex. 300

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

Kyle Weatherhogg

Food and Farm Program Coordinator

Kyle believes in the power of food. She is passionate about the connectedness of food on a personal, communal, and global scale in health, environment, society/culture, politics, and economics. Kyle is truly inspired and motivated by the work that the VYCC accomplishes those areas, especially in the Health Care Share project, which seeks to improve public health through the community and youth development. She believes strongly in nurturing and educating youth so that they may be healthy contributors to society.

Kyle graduated from the University of Vermont with a bachelor’s degree in Food Systems, with a minor in Nutrition and Food Science and Environmental Studies. In 2016, Kyle began working at the VYCC in the Food & Farm Program as an Assistant Crew Leader in consecutive years served as a Field Assistant (2017) and Crew Leader (2018.)

Kyle is excited to continue to work with the VYCC in her newest role as Food and Farm Program Coordinator, which focuses on recruitment to managing crews during the season!

Pronouns: she/her

Kyle.Weatherhogg@vycc.org | (802) 434.3969

Jas Smith

Conservation Forestry Manager

VYCC recently decided to expand its repertoire of programs to include Forestry – the perfect complement to Farm and Conservation. Jas Smith is now on board to facilitate this exciting move. He comes from a broad background of business administration in both an industrial setting and with numerous non-profit entities. He’s always had a passion for trail crew and forestry yet didn’t begin a formal career until the last decade, receiving a Master of Science from UMass/Amherst in 2012. He has worked with consultants and on the Timber Crew of the Green Mountain National Forest, and is now a member of the Committee on Forest Policy for the Society of American Foresters (SAF). Jas lives in a log cabin in Warren and cherishes rambling in his back yard; at 7 miles wide, he rarely sees the other side. An avid paddler, skier and windsurfer, he’s thrilled to be with VYCC.

Pronouns: he/him

Jas.Smith@VYCC.org | (802) 434.3969 x139

Andrew Whitehead

Food and Farm Program Manager

Andrew believes in the role food plays in building community. He is passionate about VYCC’s Health Care Share, which he finds revolutionary in its own right. He is committed to expanding this important project.

After leading a crew with the Food & Farm Program in 2015, he stepped up to a full-time position. Andrew ensures Corps Members have a powerful experience and has helped the Food & Farm Program expand beyond Chittenden County.

Andrew grew up in Ireland and Pennsylvania, and studied Sustainable Development at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Pronouns: he/him

Andrew.Whitehead@VYCC.org | (610) 955.3766