Wylie to receive Eco-Spirit Award posthumously

MIDDLEBURY — Local nonprofit Spirit in Nature will present a special award to the late Alex Wylie, formerly of West Salisbury, at its annual meeting on Sunday, Feb. 21, at 4 p.m. in the downstairs conference room of the Ilsley Library in Middlebury.
According to Ron Slabaugh, president of the Spirit in Nature Board of Trustees, the Eco-Spirit Award is presented annually “to persons whose lives are illuminated by their appreciation of the beauty, mystery, and preciousness of the natural world. They are dynamic role models who engage us in debate, and urge us to explore the implications of our behavior during our present global environmental crisis. They lead us to a path of hope for the future of all life and nature on earth.”
Slabaugh explains that the trustees voted to give the regular Eco-Spirit Award to someone living, this year to the Sunday Night Group at Middlebury College, an environmental activist group started by Bill McKibben that was involved in the creation of the international climate action group 350.org, but wanted to honor Alex Wylie posthumously for her work in conserving Vermont farmland.
Wylie is being honored for her work conserving farmland with the Vermont Land Trust. She was involved in conserving more than 750 Vermont farms comprising over 200,000 acres during her career with VLT.
Wylie died in November from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease). She began having physical symptoms in the summer of 2013 and was diagnosed with ALS in December of 2014. She died at home Nov. 16, 2015.
Wylie called herself an unlikely farmer, having grown up near New York City where he dad was a surgeon at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. She and her husband bought a dairy farm in Leicester when she was only 23 and she ran it for over 15 years, even as a single parent following her divorce. One of those years she was honored as Dairyman of the Year.
After selling the farm, she took a position with the Vermont Land Trust in the Agricultural division and traveled all over Vermont visiting farms interested in conservation. She had retired only several years before the ALS disease process started and died less than a year after receiving the diagnosis.
Al Karnatz of the Vermont Land Trust, a longtime colleague of Wylie’s, will make the presentation. The monetary part of the award will go to the ALS Research Fund at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.
The meeting is open to the public.

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