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Meet the Orleans County Team

 

Sarah Damsell
District Manager
Sarah Damsell has worked as the Orleans County Natural Resources Conservation District as Manager since November 2015. Sarah has focused her efforts on building the District’s water quality improvement services to local farms and municipalities. She manages the day-to-day operations of the district including maintaining core programming through grant management and development, writing land treatment plans and working with landowners and towns to plan and implement conservation projects. Prior to her current position, she worked as the Essex County NRCD district manager, for the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts as an Agricultural Resource Specialist and as a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Regional Coordinator. Sarah also worked for seven years as an Organic Farm Inspector for Northeast Organic Farm Association. She grew up in working class family in southern NH. Her first job at 15 was a trail crew member with the Student Conservation Association in NH. She became interested in agriculture while a student at the University of Montana when she was captivated by the agrarian lifestyle and worked on vegetable and dairy farms during and after college. Sarah has concentrated all of her working career in the non-profit conservation and agricultural sector. Sarah has a deep understanding of conservation districts, local, state and federal regulations and conservation practice standards. She also is well versed in funding and technical assistance programs available to landowners and towns. With a commitment to improve and protect the inherent value of natural resources for future generations, she is devoted to creating valuable and effectual experiences while working alongside community members to improve land use practices. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, cooking, yoga and getting out into the mountains to ski, hike, and bike with friends.
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Abraham Ames
Conservation Specialist

As Conservation Specialist, Abraham will be working on the Memphremagog RCPP doing conservation practice planning and nutrient management plan development and updating and working on Lake Shore Restoration Programing.

Abraham grew up in a farming community in Connecticut. He fell in love with Vermont when he pursued an education in Environmental Science at Green Mountain College in Poultney. After working on farms out of college, he went on to learn about land management by controlling invasive plants. This led him to conservation work for The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. After six years of working with land trusts, he decided he wanted to focus on projects which would more directly help the land and the people who live there. He lives in Brownington with his partner Maia and their adventurous cat. He enjoys fishing, boating, aquaponics and skiing.

 

Ted Sedell
Conservation Specialist

Ted is the newest member of the Orleans County NRCD. As Conservation Specialist, he will be the lead on natural resource restoration programs that primarily deal with aquatic environments like streams, rivers, and wetland/floodplains, as well as web based information sharing about the OCNRCD. 

Prior to moving to the Northeast Kingdom, Ted was a research fish ecologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in La Grande, Oregon leading monitoring efforts on Snake River Pacific salmon. Ted earned his Master’s of Science from Montana State University, and for the last 25 years, he has been involved in the development, coordination, and implementation of large-scale aquatic habitat and water quality monitoring programs throughout the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountains. Ted’s passion is in the conservation and recovery of watersheds for both human use and natural flora and fauna through restoration of ecosystem functions, especially in aquatic and riparian environments.  As such, his interests include developing relationships and collaborative problem solving among stakeholders; finding sustainable solutions for the community, aquatic organisms, and riverine systems; evaluating and designing restoration of ecosystem processes to promote clean water and sustainable habitats; and building resilient a landscape for future generations. As is in common with most Vermonters, he and his family enjoy everything that involves being outdoors whether it’s in the woods or on the water and exploring the world at large.

Stephanie Mason
Chair and Treasurer, Albany
Stephanie Mason joined the Board in 2011 at the urging of then member Willy Ryan. As a small dairy farmer involved with FSA, USDA, and NRCS, she wanted to learn more about the conservation movement. Each year brought more changes and activities as the District’s role in the community became more defined. In 2016, Stephanie became the Chair and Treasurer, hoping to support the District in its goal to lead the Orleans County water quality movement. Privately, Stephanie is married with two children, ages 13 and 17. She has a small farm on 76 acres and a small, soon to be expanded herd of mixed breed cows. Chickens, pigs, cats and dogs as well as a large vegetable garden round out the farm.
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Dexter Randall
Supervisor, Troy
Dexter is a lifelong dairy farmer whose bold personality appeals to your better side when he’s around. He’s spent thirty-seven years raising a family of five children while managing a small family organic dairy farm. His oldest son Justin and youngest daughter Irene now operate the home farm along with their mom Alice. Dexter’s youngest son, Jason and his wife Ashley along with their four sons have a fifty cow organic dairy in Lowell. For most of these years, Dexter has served in public roles as a progressive party member in the Vermont House of Representatives from 2004-2008 and a board member of Rural Vermont for 30 years, including eight years as board chair. For a dozen years the DexRan farm hosted community pig roasts for Bernie Sanders that were known as a fun event where your voice could be heard. He has worked for the VT Center for Sustainable Agriculture, been involved with the Missisquoi Basin Association, and is on the board of American Milking Devon Cattle Association. For Dexter and his family, “farming is not just a living, it's our passion. Take care of the land and it will take care of you, so you can leave it a little bit better than you found it.” OCNRCD is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with him.
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Walter Medwid
Secretary, Derby
Walter is a biologist with a deep soft spot for this special part of the Northeast. He has worked in the nonprofit conservation sector for many years in Connecticut, New York, Minnesota and Vermont. He has served previously as the executive director/publisher of the Center for Northern Woodlands Education and the executive director of the International Wolf Center in Minnesota, the NorthWoods Stewardship Center and the Adirondack Mountain Club in New York. While in New York, he became an Adirondack 46er by climbing all the peaks over 4,000 feet. He has travelled to the Northwest Territories and backpacked several times on Ellesmere Island is search of arctic wolves. In addition to his strong background in management of non-profit organizations, Walter Medwid brings with him a variety of accolades including the Silver Eagle Award, the highest award given by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to an individual outside the agency, and the Cooperative Conservation Award given by Secretary of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne. He has a keen interest in natural history and has identified over 150 avian species in Orleans County. Walter currently works as the coordinator for Orleans County Restorative Justice Center, coordinating the reparative justice panels and lives in Derby, Vermont with his wife Mary Beth. The Orleans County NRCD is honored to welcome Walter to the board for a one year trial term and we look forward to working with him to address local soil and water quality natural resource concerns.
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Tim Buzzell
Vice-Chair, Morgan
Tim Buzzell's heritage connects him to the region and continues to energize his work and care for local natural resources. He grew up on the Shattuck Hill Farm in Derby and at his family camp on Seymour Lake in Morgan. Tim, now retired, divides his time between his residence in Plainfield, NH and his property in Morgan where he serves on the Board of the Seymour Lake Association. He is a graduate of Norwich University, and is a licensed Professional Civil Engineer. His career was spent developing and designing water related projects throughout New England and Alaska. He was also President and owner of Sweetwater Hydroelectric, Inc. We welcome Tim's perceptive and professional expertise which will certainly add to the success of our goal to implement land use conservation projects.
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Jared Nunery
Associate Supervisor, Craftsbury
Jared is a licensed forester in Vermont, and works for the State of Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation as the Orleans County Forester. He lives in Hyde Park with his wife Ashley and children Finn and Willa. As the Orleans County Forester, he works with landowners across the county to promote sound stewardship of our forests. Jared also serves on the Advisory Boards for the Lake Region Union High School Vocational Agriculture Program, and the North Country Career Center Forestry, Agriculture and Water Resources Program. Prior to working for the State of Vermont, he worked across five continents evaluating forestry conservation practices. He has worked for non-profit organizations, private consulting firms, and both federal and state governments, offering a diverse background in organizational structure and function. Jared passionately cares about promoting and practicing sound stewardship of the land, and as Aldo Leopold best put it, “intelligent tinkering” in our forests.
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Joanna Lidback
Supervisor

Joanna Lidback is a dairy farmer, business consultant, and lifelong farmer advocate. She and her husband Adam own and operate the Farm at Wheeler Mountain, a diversified dairy farm located in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. The farm consists of 80 registered Jerseys and Holsteins and a direct farm sales business for beef and composted cow manure.

Off the farm, Joanna is CFO for Adirondack Farms, LLC and the principal consultant for Adirondack Management Services, LLC. Previously, she was a business consultant with Yankee Farm Credit and has also held various positions with Farm Credit East including loan officer, director of Knowledge Exchange, and lead author of the Northeast Dairy Farm Summary.

She was inducted into Vermont’s Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2019 as an Emerging Leader and recognized with the Young Jersey Breeder national award in 2016. She volunteers as a board member for the Global Farmer Network, she is first vice president of Orleans County Farm Bureau, and can be found judging youth dairy cattle shows throughout the summer and early fall.

Joanna has a bachelor’s degree in applied economics and management from Cornell University and an MBA from Babson College. She and Adam are raising three children on the farm: Thomas, Eli, and Audrey. You can find Joanna at Facebook.com/TheFarmatWheelerMountain and @JoannaLidback on Instagram and Twitter. You can read her blog at farmlifelove.com.

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