Agroecology and Rural Livelihoods Group
HOMECOMING: CUSTOMIZED FOR CALS ALUMS & FAMILIES
CREAM Anniversary Party, Open House/Farm, Attend Classes, More....
- By Cheryl Dorschner
At dusk on Homecoming Saturday, Ethan and Erin Nelson walked hand in hand with their two young daughters skipping alongside and their son in his arms. They strolled through the University of Vermont cattle barns on Spear Street. They saw a day-old Holstein in the maternity barn. Their daughters Brynn and Susanna got down eye-to- eye and talked to a trio of Jersey calves in huts nearby. Then they stopped to watch Sam Cox and Rachel “Rocky” Freund do the evening chores and milk the student-run CREAM herd. (That stands for the Cooperative for Real Education in Agricultural Management program.)
"We met in these barns," says Ethan ’98, referring to the turn of the century when they were animal science majors. "Well practically," corrects Erin '99. Like Cox and Freund and hundreds before them, they were both “CREAMers.” Now he runs the family farm. She's a vet, they're married with three kids, and they came home to the UVM Farms for CREAM's 25th birthday barbecue.
They weren’t the only couple who originated at UVM during the October 4-5, 2013 Homecoming and Family weekend, of course. Plenty of pairs tell a similar sweet success story of launching careers and marriage after earning their College degrees. Among the others that join the thousands on campus for Homecoming weekend are families visiting their children who are students.
Homecoming and Family Weekend is a University wide event for folks of every green and gold stripe, yet each College and School puts its special welcome spin on it. UVM’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) especially brings people outdoors in touch with well bred horses, milk cows, whimsical goats, student-grown vegetables, cold-hardy grapes, heirloom and new varieties of apples, cider and mums.
For example, horse lovers converged at the Ellen Hardacre Equine Center on Saturday to see riding competitions, races, dressage, demonstrations of riding talent and well cared for horses. UVM is unusual in that students may actually bring their horses with them to College. The Equine Center has 22 stalls, tack room and other facilities.
Visiting Alice Conray and her horse Greta were Alice’s grandmother and mom Bea and Kate Day of West Newbury and Newburyport, Massachusetts, respectively. And while many parents bring cookies and treats to their college students, the Days brought thick, long homegrown carrots for Greta. Alice and Greta will graduate in May 2014.
Alumni who wanted an update and parents of first-year students who had questions attended UVM CALS Dean Tom Vogelmann’s open house on Saturday. Over coffee they saw architects’ renderings of new plans to renovate UVM Farms.
Folks who took the bus to the UVM Horticulture Farm not only learned about cold-hardy grapes and new apple varieties from Hort. Farm Director Terry Bradshaw. It just so happened that Professor Josef Gorres, who has been called a “wormologist” was at the farm doing earthworm research and agreed to chat about his discoveries of an earthworm invasion of non-native species. He even dug up a crazy snakeworm to the, um, delight of tour goers.
Another weekend highlight was the 25th anniversary of CREAM – a hands-on, year-long farm management program in the University of Vermont's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Students perform all of the barn chores and manage the whole operation of about 30 Holstein cows plus heifers housed at the UVM Farms on campus. It's one of Vermont's highest producing and genetically superior herds. About 15 students participate each year and gain eight college credits. The CREAM program has graduated perhaps 375 farm managers in its history, and they've succeeded in a wide range of fields.
Saturday evening more than 100 alumni of signature student-run dairy farm program turned out for a barbecue in the Equine Center show arena that had been transformed with lights, candles, decorations, plenty of food and company. CREAM Director Norm Purdie was master of ceremonies. A founder and 18-year Director James “Gilly” Gilman recalled the history and how the organization has changed. UVM CALS Development Officer Howard Lincoln noted that significant funds had already been raised so that UVM will break ground on a new CREAM barn this year, and he urged alumni to make a commitment. Laurence “LCJ” Jost, '80, rose from his table to do just that. He came forward with a check for $2,500.
And while crowd celebrated CREAM’s birthday and the birth of a new CREAM barn, four barns away, a CREAM herd Holstein gave birth to a calf. And since Emily Stephens, a UVM CALS junior in animal science from Nashua, New Hampshire is charged to care for this calf, she earned the honor of naming him: Barnaby – an auspicious sign of that new barn to come.