I’m proud to announce that I have been endorsed by Vermont Conservation Voters, joining my fellow Democratic nominee Senator Chris Bray as the district’s two endorsed senate candidates. While environmental policy is not my area of expertise, I care deeply about preserving our working forests, open lands, and waterways; fighting global climate change through conservation and renewable energy; and ensuring that Vermont’s water, air, and land is clean so Vermonters can lead healthy lives.
As a mother of three children, protecting our environment is of great importance to me for ensuring that future generations can lead healthy sustainable lives in Vermont, and I often seek ways to involve kids in these efforts. In VCV’s candidate survey, I wrote about one of my first efforts engaging in our community: leading tree plantings at local schools. In 2008, I worked with my daughter’s third grade class to plant 15 trees at Mary Hogan Elementary School, raising the money, recruiting volunteers, and working with students to choose, place, and plant the trees. The students’ efforts won the class the 2009 Youth Tree Steward Award from the VT Urban & Community Forestry program. We took the kids to the Statehouse to meet the governor and receive their award next to all the grown-ups who’d also done good work. This tree planting was an inspiration to me, and over the past decade I’ve continued to plant trees with local students from preschool through college. By now, I’ve helped plant close to 75 trees with local students at schools and non-profit organizations. Each planting includes education on why trees are beneficial to our environment and communities.
As an expert in education policy, I see many intersections between environmental and educational issues. One area I will focus on is ensuring our school & educational facilities and transportation systems are energy efficient, for the benefit of both environmental and financial efficiency. Fuel efficient and/or alternative-fuel school buses & vehicles could save money & decrease emissions. Energy efficient buildings and the expanded use of solar, wind, and other “green” energy sources would make our school buildings more affordable & environmentally friendly in the long term. Additionally, ensuring that our students are exposed to high quality science and environmental studies curriculum is essential for students, no matter what their career path might be. Technical education opportunities that train students to work in the green economy, science education that inspires students to further studies in environmental engineering or similar fields, or simply general education that helps create good environmental citizens are all examples of how education policy intersects with environmental issues.
Addison County, our state, country, and world face serious environmental challenges. I will not pretend I have the answers to how we should tackle all of these problems. What I can bring to the table is an analytical approach to policy issues, and a desire to embrace the complexities and find common ground on divisive issues such as Lake Champlain clean-up; housing, transportation, and infrastructure challenges in our rural state; the impact of global warming on local habitats and industries such as skiing, sugaring, forestry, and farming; and the intersection of public health, social justice, and environmental contamination.
I look forward to engaging with colleagues with environmental expertise in Montpelier to make progress on the VCV Vermont Environmental Core Agenda.