Perspectives - Winter 2016 - 42

Chris Dutton teaching his students about animal health.

are more plant accessible and more easily applied to farm fields than
conventionally managed manure. "We are developing an army of young
people to attack global warming because they understand greenhouse gas
production, carbon sequestration, and photosynthesis," Dutton exclaimed.
The school is considering plans to add a greenhouse for winter vegetable
production, capturing carbon dioxide and heat from the methane digester.
Dutton said VTC hopes to engage in applied research for farm nutrient
management planning and agricultural water quality initiatives.
With the recent gift of the Norwich Farm complex, the school has
housing for 48 dairy cows and 12 students at the new campus with a focus
on value-added production and processing. Students from VTC can share
a semester at the college with students from other schools. The school
hopes to partner with the Vermont Foodbank and Upper Valley Haven
to calculate the lowest sustainable price at which dairy products can be
delivered to charitable feeding services.

"The goal of VTC is to create
spectacularly passionate,
functional farmers-they will
keep Vermont land in agricultural
production."

Dutton noted that when Mr. Andy Sigler was considering giving
Norwich Farm to VTC, he focused on development of human resource
management skills. Dutton said, "Every time I interact with students we
create a managerial hierarchy. The students write lists, recruit employees,
and get work done. Juniors and seniors are making decisions and executing
work. These students have skills and are ready to launch. We focus on
developing a growth mindset rather than being victims of a circumstance."
The college is in the final year of administration of a $3.4 million work
force development grant that supported many continuing education
courses in a wide range of agricultural topics. Success of the grantsupported activity has VTC looking toward a future as an educational hub
for agricultural continuing education in the Northeast.
The gift of the new facility in Norwich offers the opportunity for the
college to diversify its instructional opportunities. Planning is ongoing,
but the Randolph farmstead will likely be used for a 60-head beef contract
feeding operation and a 50-head dairy. The farm also has 250 blueberry
bushes, a 2000-tap sugaring operation, a 5-acre apple orchard, and a 250acre woodlot. Vegetables and maple syrup produced by the college farm
are direct marketed to Sodexo Food Service for use in Sodexo-served

42

Perspectives Magazine

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cafeterias across the state and the Vermont state college food system.
Eighty percent of the students enrolled in the VTC agricultural programs
are traditional college age and most are graduates of public high schools
and technical career centers. More than fifty percent have a connection
to a farm prior to college and start with a base of agricultural knowledge.
Dutton observed, with deserved pride, that after ten years of teaching at
VTC he has advised 150 students through to graduation. Of those, 148 are
employed in agriculture or a supporting field, and 68 either own a farm or
are moving to that goal.
Dutton remarked, "The college supports land preservation through human
development. The goal of VTC is to create spectacularly passionate,
functional farmers-they will keep Vermont land in agricultural
production."
In reflecting on their education at VTC, Gearhart and Judd remarked that
they were pushed hard to gain as much knowledge as possible. Gearhart
said, "The professors were really responsive to students who wanted to
learn. I had a lot of support." The school prides itself in helping a young
person explore where they want to go and then holding them accountable
for their education. Judd credits VTC with pushing him to a management
skill set. "We have everything they are paying for be directly related to
where they want to go," Dutton said, "At graduation we require a fully
formed individual-they need to be accountable to their own mission
statement."

VTC students Megan Putnam & Courtney Banach activly participating in Chris Dutton's
lecture by taking notes.


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Perspectives - Winter 2016

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Perspectives - Winter 2016 - Contents
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