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Meet the VACD Team

 

jill Arace
Executive Director
Jill has nearly thirty years of non-profit management and sustainable development experience, mostly overseas. She lived and worked in Thailand and Cambodia for eleven years, managing relief and development programs for several organizations, including the American Friends Service Committee and Oxfam. She returned to the US to attend graduate school, where she earned two masters degrees – one in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School, and the other in Economics from Boston University. After graduate school, Jill moved to one of her favorite places – Vermont – where she worked for eleven years at the Institute for Sustainable Communities managing civic participation and sustainable development programs in Central and Eastern Europe and Russia, including community-based environmental action planning, school-based conservation education, environmental management training, watershed planning, solid waste management, energy efficiency, sustainable forestry, agricultural production, food security, and grassroots citizen initiatives. After she stopped traveling around the world, Jill began learning more about conservation and community development in Vermont and in the beautiful Mad River Valley, where she lives and facilitates sustainable agriculture initiatives. Jill is particularly interested in supporting local food production and building bridges between different segments of the community. When she's not busy organizing something, you may find Jill digging in her garden, walking the back roads of Vermont, practicing energy healing, or singing in a chorus.
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Jeff Farber
Jeff has had a long and varied career of non-profit administration, project management, and conservation activities. He has served on the Middlesex Planning Commission for the past five years, is restoring a forgotten farm apple orchard, raising organic fruits and vegetables and managing the woodlot on his 10 acres. Before coming to VACD in 2008, Jeff served on the staff of UVM's Division of Continuing Education, where he designed and managed distance learning programs for post-graduate professionals. Jeff is also a self-employed media producer developing award-winning documentary films and projects focusing on conservation and social change issues. He brings a wide range of managerial experiences and a strong commitment to conservation work to his position as VACD's Technical Programs Manager.
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Carrie Youngblood
The manager and bookkeeper of our virtual office is the current office manager/bookkeeper of Heaton Woods, an assisted living facilty in Montpelier. Carrie Youngblood is a graduate of the University of Michigan and has lived in Vermont for more than 25 years. Her previous office/financial positions have included the non-profits Turtle Island Children's Center, Food Works at Two Rivers Center and the Methodist Conference Minister of the old Troy Conference, UMC. Four years at Solar Works (now Real Good Solar) was a valuable lesson in being both for-profit and socially responsible. Carrie lives in Montpelier and is active in the United Church of Christ, currently a member of Bethany Church, Montpelier, and has served on the Board of Directors of the Vermont Conference where she was Moderator of the 2011 Annual Meeting. She is also the Treasurer of the Vermont Philharmonic Orchestra and sings in the Vermont Philharmonic Chorus.
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Joanne Dion
Program Assistant
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Luke Rackers
Communications Coordinator
Luke Rackers loves to help people solve problems, tell stories, inspire action, and build community. His primary passions are the arts and the environment, the importance of both having been instilled at a young age. As a two-time Goddard graduate (BA ‘09 & MFA ‘12), Luke fell in love with the Vermont landscape and culture, inspiring a move to the state in the fall of 2016. He is the founder and Executive Director of a nonprofit arts organization that is dedicated to supporting the work of living composers and encouraging creativity in the 21st Century. Luke grew up on a family farm in central Missouri and designed a small urban farm in Denver, CO. He is very excited to build on his agricultural and environmental roots through his new position as Communications Coordinator for the VACD. Luke and his spouse, Tonya, live in Montpelier with their spry hound dog, Sprocket. Most of his free time is spent teaching piano and composition lessons, performing new music, keeping Sprocket out of trouble, container gardening, and enjoying the beautiful Vermont outdoors and local food scene.
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Troy Dare
Rural Fire Protection Program Manager
Born and raised in Rockland, Maine, Troy grew up enjoying life on the ocean as a Rockland High School Tiger dabbling in cross country, track, drama and other theater groups. He also developed a strong passion for guitar and music. After high school he attended Vermont Technical College majoring in Civil Engineering Technology. In the summer months he worked as a Stern-man on a few lobster boats and played guitar in a few professional rock bands. During his senior year at VTC, Troy did work-study for the Vermont Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) Councils Vermont Rural Fire Protection Task Force on the Rural Fire Protection initiative. In the spring of 1998 the VT Legislature started funding the Dry Hydrant Grant Program and Troy has worked as the Engineering Technician for that program for 15 years until the RC&D's closed their doors in 2013. Troy has now moved on to become the Rural Fire Protection Program Manager for the VACD to continue the Dry Hydrant Grant Program and help evolve the Rural Fire Protection Program to another level of service & support for Vermont communities & Fire Departments.
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Meet the VACD Technical Staff

 

Clarice Cutler
DEC RCPP Conservation Planner, Middlebury
Born and raised in VT, Clarice returned to VT in 2015 after living in Oregon and Washington for six years. While out west, Clarice wrote her undergraduate thesis on the distribution of conservation easements in the US and directed a cooperative weed management area. Clarice is transitioning to VACD/NRCS from the Vermont Land Trust where she conducted annual easement monitoring and supported new farm projects. Clarice is looking forward to continuing to work with conserved farmers at VACD. In her spare time Clarice can be found exploring the mountains and waterways of the northeast with her husband Jonnie and dog Khoda.
Tucker Malone
South Lake Champlain Cartographic Technician, Rutland & Middlebury
I am a 7th generation Vermonter who grew up on a small 60 cow dairy farm in Franklin County. My experience dairy farming sparked a passion for agriculture and conservation. I followed this passion to Johnson State College where I majored in Biology. Along the way I took many courses with a conservation focus, including GIS. This interest in GIS lead me to an internship with Cold Hollow to Canada as their Mapping Specialist Intern. After graduating in May 2017 I followed my excitement for GIS to the VACD Cartographic Technician position, where I assist land treatment planners in creating maps to aid in the implementation of land treatment plans for farms in the South Lake Champlain watershed.
Stephanie Drago
Strategic Watershed Cartographic Technician, NRCS State Office
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