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UVM Research Served à la Mode

20th Annual Event Draws Nearly 300 to Statehouse

Vignettes from the Statehouse reception
Scenes from Feb. 9 Statehouse, from left: 1. UVM Dean Tom Vogelmann, Assistant Provost Rachel Johnson and US Sen. Welch Staffer Patricia Coates listen to VT Treasurer Elizabeth Beale. 2. Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross, Sen. Leahy staffer Tom Berry, Deputy Secy. of Agriculture Diane Bothfeld. 3. UVM Research Scientist Julie Smith. 4. VT Gov. Peter Shumlin greets UVM President Daniel Mark Fogel. 5. UVM's Ernesto Mendez., Cheryl Dorschner and Linda Berlin listen to VT Sen. Virginia Lyons.

On one side of the Statehouse cafeteria, UVM agroecologist Ernesto Mendez was explaining to Virginia Lyons, chair of the senate committee on natural resources and energy, that, based on his “kitchen table conversations” with 30 Vermont farmers and land-use maps they created together, many farmers don’t know what government conservation programs they’ve signed on to. Mendez wants to change that.

On the other side of room, despite the boisterous gathering surrounding them, Tom Vogelmann, in his role as director of the Vermont Agricultural Experiment Station envisioned future research in which milk could contain vitamins, probiotics and other health-promoting enzymes present as the result of fine-tuned cattle feed. He was responding to Addison County Rep. Paul Ralston’s challenge to come up with a way for milk to fetch high prices.

These and many other brief-but-meaningful introductions to the value of UVM research took place on February 9 at an event that has come to be as sure as the frost heaves on the road to the state capitol.

For the 20th year in a row, the Vermont Agricultural Experiment Station (VT-AES) and UVM Extension hosted the governor, his executives, state senators and representatives and a federal delegation on their own turf. Amid a cacophony of bright posters, brochures and a newly minted annual report, they talked about how state and federally funded research from Vermont’s land-grant university helps its citizens. Before introducing Gov. Peter Shumlin, UVM President Daniel Mark Fogel remarked that state and federal funding forms a foundation for UVM research upon which it competes for additional grant money that directly strengthens Vermont’s economy and communities.

“Every year just after Vermont legislators convene for their new session we meet here to celebrate UVM’s partnership with state government and showcase some of our top research in agriculture, environment, nutrition, food systems and community and economic development and how it directly helps Vermonters,” said Vogelmann.

Business cards were exchanged, a number of researchers were invited to present before committees, and perhaps their work will be on the minds of legislators as they prepare the budget for the coming fiscal year.

Truth be told, something else drew nearly 300 people to the event: it was the brief respite from the hard work of budget cutting, bowls of Proctor Maple Research Center maple sugar on snow and Ray and Pam Allen’s Allenholm apple pie topped with Vermont’s Island Homemade Ice Cream. The Allens served 352 slices of pie. But what kept everyone there long after second helpings was the work to be done toward common goals.

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