BRATTLEBORO -- A Windham County student has received an award for his "exceptional commitment to land stewardship in agriculture."
Sam Rushton, who graduated on Saturday from Leland & Gray Union High School in Townshend and also was a student at Windham Regional Career Center in Brattleboro, was one of eight Vermont students receiving the Land Stewardship Award from Vermont Land Trust.
He was honored mainly for his work on his family's farm, the Marsuton Family Dairy Farm in Grafton.
"We are heartened that such talented students have focused on agriculture and forestry," said Gil Livingston, Vermont Land Trust president. "While we are proud of our success in conserving farms and forests across Vermont, it is equally important to support the next generation of working lands stewards. We thank Sam for his hard work and commitment."
Land Trust administrators said the award is meant to "acknowledge outstanding student achievement, encourage future land stewards and increase the visibility of Vermont's vocational agriculture and forestry programs."
Rushton, 18, was nominated for the award by Dennis Hamilton, a forestry and natural resources teacher at Windham Regional Career Center, due to the student's "daily contributions milking cows, haying and selling goods on his family's farm."
"Living and wanting to work on a farm is a pretty good demonstration of what your focus is," Hamilton said.
"I grew up on a farm, and it's very seldom nowadays that kids have that kind of background," Hamilton said. Rushton "demonstrated through what he did that he had those core values ... it's pretty easy to see within a short period of time where a student's interest is."
Rushton hopes to study dairy-farm management at Vermont Technical College "and gain the skills to create a more sustainable farm operation," Land Trust administrators said in announcing the award. "Sam acknowledges that farming isn't easy and not always kind, but believes that ‘the life of a dairy farmer is worth the hard work."
Rushton said he enjoys agriculture and forestry in part because of the variety of the work.
"It's something to do -- something to keep you busy," he said. "I like the change. There's always a different job to do."
As for the award, Rushton said simply that he was "happy to get it."
Joan Weir, the Land Trust's regional director, presented the award to Rushton. It comes with $250 cash that can be used toward education, equipment or materials.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.