Summer Youth Leaders

Smokey House Center welcomes a new crew of Youth Leaders to our team for the summer. In a region where youth employment opportunities are few, we're offering positions that hone leadership, outdoor, and workplace skills in support of our Community Farm and Danby Mountain Day Camp programs. This week, our anchor team of teenagers is working hard on the Community Farm while preparing space and program for the arrival of our first summer day campers on July 10. Additional youth leaders will join us throughout the season, and we'll profile them here.

Thanks, Thomas, Thann, and Charlotte (pictured here with Camp Director Mel) for all of your good work already. This summer is off to a great start!

Summer Groups

Youth Works crew with Farm Educator Jamie (r).

Youth Works crew with Farm Educator Jamie (r).

We developed the Community Farm project to increase both public engagement at Smokey House Center and opportunities for new partnerships. Now in our second year, we're happy to work with so many groups eager to support youth leadership and development through farm and food systems work. We've got land resources and work galore, and we work with a wide range of skilled individuals and organizations to use those resources to meet our mutual missions in education, conservation, and agriculture.

Throughout the season, we'll work weekly with:

And throughout the season we also host weekly public volunteer sessions, occasional workshops, school groups, other camps, visiting college students, coordinated gleaners, and others. If you or your group would like to help us grow food with and for the community, please be in touch.

Mel Virgilio, Camp Director

Smokey House Center is pleased to welcome Melanie Virgilio as our inaugural summer day camp director.  Mel is an educator from Sunderland, VT with a long record of classroom and community support for area youth. She has been a substitute teacher in the local school system, and recently completed her teaching degree with a placement at Burr and Burton Academy. Mel is a long-serving member of the Sunderland Elementary and BRSU school boards, and was recently elected to the Taconic and Green Mountains Regional District board. In addition to her many professional arts and marketing roles, Mel has been an arts educator with Vermont Arts Exchange in North Bennington, where she also recently supported all the administrative functions of a successful summer day camp program.  Mel inspires children and young adults through arts education, environmental awareness, and community engagement. She's eager to dig in on the Smokey House farm and explore the nearby forests with local kids this summer.

Contact Mel at camp@smokeyhouse.org

Register for Danby Mountain Day Camp online here.

Smokey House Center joins Hunger Council of Rutland County

Hunger Free Vermont quarterly convenes the Hunger Council of Rutland County -- among many such Councils throughout the state. These Councils "bring together community leaders to create local solutions to end hunger." We were fortunate to join this coalition of thoughtful leaders in Rutland this month for a meeting focused on local food production and agriculture's connection to anti-hunger work in our area.

The Mountain Times covered the gathering of over a dozen social service agencies, area non-profits, church leaders, volunteers, and food producers including our friends at Yoder Farm, Vermont Farmers Food Center, and the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps. The paper cited Farmer Ginny on our Community Farm project:

At the Smokey House Center in Danby, Vt., Ginny Cook[e] said volunteers successfully grew and donated some 8,000 pounds of produce last year. They also established a free CSA at their local elementary school, which served 36 families.
— Mountain Times, 03/22/17
Ginny

Ginny

The Hunger Council reveals a robust network of organizations and individuals working hard to meet very real needs in our community (1 in 4 children in Rutland County are food insecure, according to Hunger Free Vermont's webpage). Our Community Farm project relies on the commitment of this network, and provides a unique opportunity for community connections in our farm fields. Join us this season!

Smokey House Center on the Radio

Farm educator Ginny Cooke and executive director Jesse Pyles joined Katherine Stamper on her new radio show "Present Time" on 99.3 fm WBTV-LP Burlington last week. You can hear the full audio from the 50-minute program here.

In the studio at WBTV-LP, Burlington. Photo: Katherine Stamper

In the studio at WBTV-LP, Burlington. Photo: Katherine Stamper

Katherine has a knack for storytelling and for getting to the root of others' stories. Her questions and interest helped us paint a full picture of the work happening here at Smokey House: our history, our landscape, our involvement with the local farm and food system, and our take on education in the working landscape. Thanks, Katherine, for giving us the opportunity.

Bennington College Students Complete Winter Field Work Term at Smokey House

Every Bennington College student is required to complete 210 hours of job or internship placement for their annual Field Work Term, gaining valuable work experience throughout their undergraduate years. This winter we welcomed two Field Work Term students to support our winter farm work and help us upgrade program space and garden records.  Marion and Cleo, we are so grateful for your interest, motivation, productivity, and great attitudes. It was a pleasure to spend some time with you in Danby. 

Cleo

Cleo

Marion

Marion