Morning Presenters

Laura MacLachlan – Smart Tech and your Carbon Footprint

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How can new technologies in electrical metering reduce electrical usage and subsequently reduce CO2 emission? This is the question that students are guided to explore in Smart Technology and Climate Change, VEEP’s new in-class workshop/presentation designed specifically for high school students.

Participants will measure power and calculate electrical energy usage of a variety of small appliances and create connections between electrical usage, electrical generation, and related carbon dioxide emissions. They will be  introduced to the newest technology in electrical metering and will be given the opportunity to examine the applications and implications of this new technology.

Laura MacLachlan is an Outreach Educator for the Vermont Energy Education Program. VEEP is a non profit organization committed to supporting teachers who want to incorporate energy-related curricula into their teaching through in-class workshops, trainings and curriculum kits. Engaging students and communities in our Hands-On Minds-On approach, VEEP works to help create an energy literate society.


Katy Davis – Envisioning a Hunger-free Vermont

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This session will address global and local food (in)security and will identify some of the structural conditions that contribute to and exacerbate hunger for Vermonters.  Participants will explore they roles that we can play in ensuring that all people have the capacity to feed themselves with dignity.

Katy comes to her work at Hunger Free Vermont with a cornucopia of personal and professional experiences that reflect her passion for a wide variety social and environmental issues on both the domestic and international levels. She has served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in both Cote d’Ivoire and Nepal, taught hands on environmental education at Ferry Beach Ecology School in Maine and worked with a variety of grassroots and policy non-profit organizations.

Katy received her Masters in International Development with a concentration in Environmental Economics from the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies in 2008.


Eric Gokee – Making an Environmental change at RHS


Maricate Mangan – RHSolar: The pro’s and cons of installing solar panels on the RHS roof

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Teumi Kataoka – A Personal Account of Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: Then and Now

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This presentation via Skype from Japan will be about Kataoka Sensei’s experience as a nuclear accident evacuee and her efforts to improve her community through the creation of the Aizu Radiation Information Center. She will discuss her organization’s response to the disaster by describing how her group checks food for radiation contamination and provides mental and physical health counseling to residents. She will discuss how this nuclear accident destroyed her environment and broke the bonds of people. She hopes that her story would be a lesson for others in hope that all of us are able to live a peaceful and healthful life.

Kataoka Sensei is a life-long resident of Aizuwakamatsu City in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. For over 20 years, she served as the Director and Lead Teacher of a private English language school.  Three days after the 3/11/11 Fukushima nuclear plant explosion– which occurred just 60 miles from Kataoka Sensei’s  home–she evacuated to western Japan along with her youngest son, sister and two nieces for two weeks. After returning to Aizuwakamatsu, she established the community based Aizu Radiation Information Center to monitor and protect children from radioactive contamination.  Kataoka Sensei travels and speaks on nuclear related issues throughout Japan and the United States.


Peter Lynch  Sustainability & Culture: What does it mean?

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What does sustainability mean? Does it adequately describe an end-goal for international social and environmental justice? What does sustainability mean to you? Is this meaning shared by other people and other cultures? International challenges often center on access to natural resources. This session will explore the value of communicating with people from other cultures with specific examples from China, Bhutan and Japan. During this session an opportunity to travel to China this summer for youth environmental leadership exchange will be introduced.

Peter serves as the President and founding Executive Director of Green Across the Pacific, Inc. (GATP), which seeks to improve cultural and environmental awareness and cooperation around the world by organizing Youth Environmental Leadership exchanges. He has taught science in both public and private high schools for two decades. While on a biology field trip to South China in 1996, Peter met with School Officials at the Affiliated High School of South China Normal University in Guangzhou,China, and it was decided to begin an exchange program. Through nearly two decades of work, this exchange has developed into a highly successful study of environmental issues for Chinese and American students. GATP partners with the Rubenstein School of Environment & Natural Resources at the University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, where Peter is a summer instructor. GATP has expanded activities to Tottori Prefecture, Japan, Bhutan, Kenya, Senegal, Puerto Rico and Nova Scotia.


Gail H Johnson – How to make your contribution to Peacekeeping and Conflict Resolution

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In this session you  will begin to see the Big Picture of problems and help to frame problems into manageable snapshots into which you might imagine yourself entering in order to improve the picture.

Gail is an educator, peace building specialist, and community organizer, and  is well known in academic, political, and community circles. She has practiced, taught, and researched in the barangays of central Philippines to numerous cities and towns in the United States. She continues to serve on local and state boards and commissions and has held numerous leadership positions, including a Presidential appointment to the National Advisory Council on Voluntarism where she served under two presidents. She earned a B.S. in Business from the University of Louisville; a Masters in Education from the U.S. Navy Supply Corps School; a M.Ed. from Georgia State Univ.;and a M.S. in Peace Operations at the School of International Affairs at George Mason University.  Gail is certified in advanced skills from the GMU School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution. She resides in Rutland, VT where her business is Work Strategies.


Dr. Andy Vermilyea – Global Energy Choices and Our Changing Climate

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Regional energy choices can have profound impacts on water and air quality hundreds and thousands of miles away from their sources and have an impact on our changing global climate. This presentation will explore climate change and how it is affecting specific landscapes.  It will also examine how byproducts of energy production can influence ecosystems thousand of miles away.

Andy is a graduate of Hamilton College where he majored in Chemistry and minored in Geology. During his graduate studies at Colorado School of Mines, he studied contaminate photochemical degradation. Andy’s post-doctorate work at the University of Alaska Southeast expanded his research to include much larger scale systems, such as how landscapes influenced the total export of nutrients from watersheds to a very productive coastal ecosystem like the Gulf of Alaska. He is currently collaborating with the University of Vermont to study nutrient export from our Vermont landscapes and the resulting impact on Lake Champlain.


James Ehlers – Swimmable, Drinkable, and Fishable Vermont Waters

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This session will examine the threats to our waters, fish, and wildlife that are present as a result of generations of poor choices as well as the solutions and ways to make a positive difference.

James’ work  focuses on the merits of communities, states, and the Nation investing in a Clean Water Economy, an economy where sound public policy in energy, agriculture, urban and suburban development, and jobs is reflected in swimmable, drinkable, and fishable waters.  A past recipient of the U.S. EPA Regional Merit Award for his founding of an innovative approach to solving stormwater pollution, James shares his communication skills gleaned from a decade in publishing and broadcast media and his leadership skills honed as a Naval Officer with several organizations and elected officials.  He serves on Senator Sanders’ Environmental Advisory Council, advises the Governor and Legislature of Vermont on matters of public policy impacting the Lake Champlain Basin as chairman of the Citizens Advisory Committee, and represents on the State of Vermont as a commissioner to the congressionally-authorized seven-state collaborative on northeast water issues: New England Interstate Water Pollution Commission.  In addition, he serves on the government affairs committees for the American Sportfishing Association, New England Water Environment Association, and Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility.   For the last 16 years, James has had the privilege to serve as the executive director of Lake Champlain International, a highly visible and very active 501(c)3 organization engaged in the region-wide effort to demonstrate that is not necessary for citizens to pit the economy against the environment, but rather demonstrating that a clean river runs through every vibrant, sustainable economy and benefits people of all backgrounds.


Debra Gardner-Baasch – The Ripple Effect of Service Learning: From Vermont to Zimbabwe

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Over the past fifteen years, David and Debra Baasch have taken multiple trips with students from Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire to volunteer at the Newstart Children’s Home in Harare, Zimbabwe.  This presentation will include an overview of the Zimbabwe Orphanage Project, the Day in the Life collaborative project with Mill River Union High School students, a wide variety of Vermont community connections and the effects of volunteering on participants.  Questions will include: What are the effects of short-term humanitarian trips? What role can social media play in developing global connections?

Debra  is a teacher at Mill River Union High School.  In addition to teaching Literacy classes, she also created a course called Social Media in Action to explore the many ways that students can use social media to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa, global poverty and the value of education.


Will Stevens – Vermont Agriculture: It’s Not Just for Farmers!

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This session will engage participants in a discussion about Vermont’s Food System: What is production; distribution; manufacturing and consumption? What are organic and “conventional” practices? Who are the stakeholders in our food supply and what are their roles? Participants will be invited to share their questions and interests in an effort to collectively design positive steps to take to support a more food-secure Vermont.

Will and his wife, Judy, have been growing organic vegetables commercially since 1982.  They co-own Golden Russet Farm in Shoreham.  Will was the president of Vermont Organic Farmers for four years and has been active on Shoreham’s planning, zoning and select boards. He has also served as the Town’s Moderator for over a decade.  On the State level, Will represented the Addison-Rutland District in the Vermont Legislature from 2007-14 and served for four years as the Ranking Member of the House Agriculture and Forest Products Committee.


Ray Dube – What does your Recycling turn into?

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This session will highlight the materials that the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England recycles on a day-to-day basis and will explore how local businesses use those recycled commodities by showing examples of products made from them.  A discussion of recycled household products will reveal what they can turn into as well.

Ray has spent the last 24 years working for a franchise bottler of Coca-Cola doing everything from loading and driving trucks to working in sales and in the financial department.  Most recently he has served as the company’s Sustainability Manager, overseeing commodity sales, recycling and education to schools and to the general  public.  Ray graduated from NH College in 2000 with a Bachelors degree in Business, Finance and Economics as well as a certificate in Sustainability for the University of NH in 2014.


Cathy Archer – Theater of the Oppressed: Theater as an agent of Change

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Theater of the Oppressed uses games to engage an audience and to create “scenes” about subjects that the audience chooses. The scenes are generally about an issue that the audience wants to understand better or to change. The audience becomes involved and may even participate as actors, modifying  the scene as the problem becomes better understood. During this session participants will play games, watch some videos of the Theater of the Oppressed productions and brainstorm ideas for future projects.

Cathy is a thirty-year veteran theater teacher in Vermont. She has presented workshops at festivals in Connecticut, Maine, Nebraska and Vermont. She is committed to the idea that theater can affect change through plays that address issues concerning the human experience and the world.


Ryan Messier – Yardscape: Healthy Lawn Care Made Simple

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This presentation will focus on lawn care practices and how they can be either beneficial or detrimental to surrounding water quality. It will detail the practices currently used by many homeowners that degrade our water resources,  as well as a number of more environmentally-friendly lawn care practices that can greatly reduce a property’s negative impact on water quality.

Ryan graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a BS in Environmental Science and has worked with for the Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District in Windham, Maine since 2012. His work includes water quality monitoring, third-party property inspections and educational and outreach projects.  Much of his focus is on engaging and educating the public regarding simple steps that can be taken to improve water quality in neighborhoods, which is critical for the preservation of our water resources.


Carolyn Crowley Meub – Clean Water is Medicine

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The consequences of the global water crisis are brutal. One child dies every minute due to  consuming unsafe water. These deaths need not occur as the technology exists to provide everyone with clean, safe drinking water and good hygiene education.  This presentation will discuss some of the solutions available to eliminate waterborne diseases in rural communities in developing countries.

Carolyn has made a successful career in public relations as well as in events and organizational management. Her work has also included special events planning,  managing political campaigns and fundraising. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Pure Water for the World, Inc., a not-for-profit organization, started by the Brattleboro, Vermont Rotary Club in 1999. Under her leadership, Pure Water for the World has grown from a Rotary Club project to an effective non-governmental organization working in Haiti and in Central America. It is no surprise that Carolyn was recognized by the White House in 2012 as one of ten Rotary Champions of Change as a result of her contributions.


Erica Wallstrom  Experiencing Antarctica

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At the turn of the century, the Antarctic was the last terrestrial frontier left unexplored. This icy region is a unique, dynamic, and fascinating part of the planet. Scientists from around the world travel to the continent seasonally to collect data connected to a variety of different fields. By better understanding the Antarctic systems, improved models of Earth systems in general can be developed. In addition to the cutting edge science, nations from around the world continually collaborate and share responsibility to protect Antarctica as it is the only unclaimed continent on the planet. This presentation will give participants a glimpse of this coldest, driest, highest, windiest place in the world and what is it like to live and work in Antarctica and how diplomatic collaboration between nations is fostered despite and because of such extreme conditions.

Erica is a high school science teacher as well as a Rowland Fellow and an Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow for 2104-15.  She is currently living, studying and working for the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C., placed with the Division of Polar Programs. Through this experience she has had the opportunity to travel to both the Arctic and Antarctic. She looks forward to returning to Vermont in the fall and infusing her teaching with the experiences she has had this year.


Steve Costello – Tackling global warming right here at home

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The presentation will begin with a simple look at the impact we each have on C02 emissions based on the choices we make every day about transportation, heating and electricity consumption.  Through different choices as individuals and as a community, we can demonstrate a much more sustainable and resilient energy system right here in Vermont.  Green Mountain Power’s ‘Energy City of the Future’, which is becoming a national model, will be also be described.

Steve Costello has served as a vice president at Green Mountain Power since 2012, where he has focused on energy innovation, customer service and community and economic development. He was previously director of public affairs at Central Vermont Public Service, where he started in 1996 after a decade-long journalism career. Steve is active on numerous boards of directors, including the Rutland Economic Development Corp., Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce, and Neighborworks of Western Vermont. He is one of the organizers of numerous annual Rutland community service projects, including the Pack the Paramount Food Drive, Corporate Challenge Food Drive, and Gift-of-Life Marathon Blood Drive, which collected 2,350 pints of blood in one day in 2013, setting a national record.


Taborri Bruhl – Sustainable Us

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How big are the world’s environmental problems? What might a more sustainable future look like, and how can humanity transition to this new paradigm?  Exactly how much trouble are we humans in with regard to our environment? Are we wrecking the planet, and if so, is there a better way forward? Join Taborri as he discusses these issues, and the lessons he’s learned from being involved in the environmental field. Ideas for more sustainable systems will be discussed, as well as the forces that will enable change. Taborri will close with his list of “Ten things we all should be doing for a more sustainable future”. It is about changing the ways we live to have less impact on the planet, as well as practical things that everyone can do that will have an impact.

Taborri Bruhl lives in rural New Haven, Vermont, with his wife, three children, and two dogs in a net-zero house powered by solar and wind. Taborri is a former Marine Corps officer, and holds a bachelors degree in history and journalism from Texas A&M University and a masters degree in history from California State University. He teaches history, economics, and government at the high school level, and is on the board of directors for the Acorn Renewable Energy Co-op in Addison County, VT.


Makerspace Zone

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Physical learning meets team-building meets repurposed materials at our version of a Makerspace.   While the Makerspace movement often focuses on technology, this workshop gives a retro spin on “software” and is accessible to all. Join us to make a boxboard wallet using our instructions and your ima-GIN-antion. Grow your creativity and take away a memento of the conference while enjoying the company of fellow designers. Materials provided.