University of Vermont

For the Love of Wood – Matt Durfee (PRT) Builds Recycled Furniture for the Aiken Center

Matthew Durfee (PRT '12) and his custom built planter box-bench made from reclaimed Aiken Center furniture
Matthew Durfee (PRT '12) and his custom built planter box-bench made from reclaimed Aiken Center furniture

Giving back to the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources was the focus of December 2012 Parks, Recreation, & Tourism (PRT) graduate Matt Durfee’s internship, required to compete his degree in PRT.

Matt loves wood!  He hails from Bethel, Vermont, where his family is in the lumber business and, not surprisingly, wood is well “engrained” in Matt’s Vermont blood.

His lifelong exposure to the lumber business sparked his fascination with and expanding talent in working with wood to create unique pieces of furniture.  Matt’s work to date has included clocks, butcher blocks, mini-bars, end tables, and coffee tables.

Matt’s UVM career spanned the period that the George D. Aiken Center was under reconstruction and Matt observed that much of the “old” Aiken Center furniture had either been eliminated or placed in storage.  Matt’s interest in woodworking kicked in and sparked the idea of recovering old Aiken furniture and recreating “new” furniture for use in the new Aiken Center.

Add the fact that for the PRT Entrepreneurship in Recreation and Tourism class, Matt developed a complete business plan for Town Center Woodworks, which became the foundation for his internship project at the Aiken Center and will likely be the basis for Matt’s future woodworking ventures.

Over a period of several months, Matt used reclaimed Aiken furniture to create an attractive and practical planter box and bench (see photo) for the Aiken solarium, and a bookcase made from old classroom chairs and shelving for the Dean’s suite (see photo).

Matt is pleased with his products, as are the resident faculty and staff of the Aiken Center.  Matt is proud of his accomplishment because he used a requirement for his major to create quality and practical furnishings for UVM’s Rubenstein School, now his alma mater.  Matt also gained practical small business knowledge as he worked through his internship experience.  What could be cooler!

Matt plans to continue pursuing a career in the lumber and custom furniture business, integrating his UVM education with his life-long, hands-on experience, and eventually landing back in the Durfee family lumber business.