River Valley student from Mt. Holly wins Land Stewards Award

Austin Turco

Austin Turco, a Mt. Holly resident who attends River Valley Technical Center in Springfield, received the Land Stewards Award from the Vermont Land Trust. The award, now in its 12th year, acknowledges the hard work of tomorrow’s agricultural and forestry leaders with an unrestricted cash prize of $250. Eleven qualified students across Vermont will receive the Land Stewards Award this year.

John Harmer, Horticulture and Natural Resources instructor, nominated Austin for the award because of his many years of experience sugaring at his family’s sugaring operation.

Joan Weir of the Vermont Land Trust presented Austin with his award and a $250 prize earlier this month at the River Valley Technical Center’s awards ceremony.

Austin’s family taps 275 acres on the back side of Okemo Mountain. He has been involved in sugaring for 16 years. Over the past six years he has taken on much more responsibility, putting in more than 1,000 hours in the sugarbush and sugarhouse. He installs and repairs line, taps trees, runs the reverse osmosis equipment, gathers sap, and boils it into syrup.

“At a very young age I started to engage myself into the business,” wrote Austin. “I shortly realized after that sugaring was what I wanted to do as a job. The first reason is because the outdoors is very peaceful. You can make a good income and I like doing it.”

Austin is also part of the local FFA chapter, and has participated in land judging and forestry events at FFA statewide competitions. He has spent time on community service agricultural events, shadowing a local logger and completing the Game of Logging level 3 certification.

Austin would like to attend Vermont Technical College, to study either forestry or landscape design and sustainable horticulture.

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About the Author: This item was edited from one or more press releases submitted to The Chester Telegraph.

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