Ag students recognized for land stewardship

MONTPELIER — Two local students received the Land Stewards Award from the Vermont Land Trust on May 27. The award, now in its 11th year, acknowledges the hard work of tomorrow’s agricultural and forestry leaders with an unrestricted cash prize of $250.
The students who won the award, Shawnna Vander Wey of Vergennes Union High School and Adam Whitcomb of the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center, are deeply committed to agriculture. The award honors hard work, initiative and academic excellence in Vermont’s vocational agriculture and forestry programs, which are vital to Vermont’s future.
“Innovative, dedicated agricultural and forestry professionals, such as Shawnna and Adam, care for our working landscape, shape Vermont communities, and are essential to the local economy,” said Gil Livingston, president of the Vermont Land Trust. “We are happy to honor these five students for the land stewardship they have demonstrated.”
Vander Wey has extensive experience with dairy cows, haying and beef cattle. She has been involved in her local FFA chapter since the beginning of high school and has served as Vermont FFA president. Through FFA, she competed nationally in Farm Business Management and attended the 2014 Washington Leadership Conference on a full scholarship.
“Shawnna has a strong work ethic, she is very loyal, and she has a can-do attitude,” said Bill Van De Weert, agriculture teacher at Vergennes Union High School.
Whitcomb works on his family’s farm, where he manages beef cows and pigs, and is responsible for field crops. He took first place in a statewide forestry competition at Shelburne Farms this spring, and will be representing Vermont at the FFA national forestry competition in Indianapolis this fall.
“Adam exemplifies the next generation of people to manage our natural resources,” said Aaron Townshend, forestry and natural resource teacher at Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center. “He is intelligent, compassionate and open to new information and practices.”
Both students have plans to continue working with the land and promoting responsible natural resource management.
Vander Wey plans to pursue a degree in animal science to become an animal nutritionist. “I want to be able to make a difference when it comes to helping farmers know what to feed (and grow) and not to feed their animals,” she wrote. “I want to help them help their animals and help them understand how important the animal’s diet is to their well-being.”
Whitcomb will continue to work on his family’s farm and would like to attend college for environmental engineering.
AL KARNATZ OF the Vermont Land Trust congratulates Adam Whitcomb on receiving one of the five Land Stewards Awards and cash prizes given each year to students who are committed to agriculture and forestry in Vermont. 

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