University of Vermont

Cabot Creamery Cooperative Partners with UVM Students to Provide Marketing Experience with Area Businesses

UVM's "Cabot Marketing Challenge" allows students to gain real-world experience developing marketing plans for five locally owned businesses.

University of Vermont alumnus John Dewey once said that “education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”  Students in the Community Development and Applied Economics (CDAE) course, “The Cabot Marketing Challenge,” are experiencing just how “life itself” education can be.

By sponsoring the course, Cabot Creamery Cooperative is providing the opportunity for students in the course to gain hands-on marketing experience in a learning environment. Student groups will be teamed up with local businesses for the length of the semester.  Their task: to write a marketing plan, along with which comes the potential to receive funding for implementation of their plan during the spring 2012 semester. The course was designed after a proposal from Cabot after which, it was shaped to its current form with input from the Business School as well as the CDAE department in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who offers the course.  

“This course exemplifies both the Land Grant mission and the reciprocity of Service-Learning: students will gain real-world, hands-on experience. Local businesses gain from the expertise of UVM and Cabot to improve their marketing practices and contribute even more to the state's sustainable community economic development. We have a great set of bright, motivated students and a great set of locally-owned, socially responsible firms,” said David Conner, Assistant Professor in the CDAE department and the course’s instructor. “I am very excited for the work we are doing for these students and for Vermont.”

Through this partnership, Cabot aims to enhance UVM’s role in the small business community in Vermont by leveraging its resources and networks with Cabot’s so that they can fundamentally improve businesses in the area.  The idea is for this program to be offered annually, each year expanding its reach to other regions and industry groups in Vermont.  “This is a valuable opportunity for the University and students to partner with us at Cabot and to leverage resources so that students obtain real-world marketing training.  The course should promote connections between students and local businesses, encouraging businesses to hire students after graduation and students to stay and work in Vermont,” reflects Roberta McDonald, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Cabot, who is involved with the course.

The Burlington area businesses selected to work with the Cabot Marketing Challenge class this fall are Sugarsnap, a caterer and bakery in Burlington, Brown Dog Gifts Books and Gifts of Hinesburg, Cynthea's Spa, in Burlington, Swiftwood Press, LLC, which creates financial reports for alternative energy, of Burlington, and Yogarama, a retail yoga store in Burlington.

Students and their community partners will be charged with understanding the current marketing practices of a Vermont business, and with working in teams (and with instructors, teaching assistants, and business people) to create a marketing plan for a the business.  “Service-learning experiences like this provide a great learning laboratory grounded in real-world decision-making for the students, as well as benefits to local business and our local economy,” says Jane Kolodinsky, Chair of the CDAE Department. "We hope that Cabot will continue this growing partnership in the future.”