Meet the 2020-2021 VHCB AmeriCorps Members

  • Photo of Asha

    Asha DiMatteo-LePape (she/her)
    Outreach & Youth Program Coordinator
    Catamount Trail Association

    Asha is serving as the Outreach & Youth Program Coordinator at the Catamount Trail Association. She grew up in Vermont and recently moved back after completing her graduate degree in Conservation Science at the University of Maine. Her fascination with both landscape conservation and outdoor recreation brought Asha to the Catamount Trail Association. Asha coordinates the Catamount Ski Cubs program and will be working with schools in the area to teach Nordic skiing and foster a love of the outdoors. This program increases access to skiing in underserved communities, promoting connections to the natural world for everyone. She also assists with efforts to protect the Catamount Trail through trail stewardship, mapping, and landowner outreach. Asha is passionate about landscape ecology and conservation, climate change planning and education, and creating opportunities for equitable access to the outdoors. When she isn’t at the CTA, Asha enjoys spending her time watering her many plants and exploring outside while climbing, cross-country skiing, and learning how to downhill ski!

  • Phot of Mady

    Mady Eori (she/her)
    Environmental Educator
    Vermont Institute of Natural Science 

    Mady is serving as an Environmental Educator at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS). She graduated from Boston University in May 2020 where she studied Ecology and Conservation Biology. Mady has previously worked in animal husbandry, environmental education, and wildlife conservation research around the country. She is excited to be serving at VINS and educating her new community about environmental issues, raptors, and wildlife rehabilitation. In her free time, Mady enjoys spending time in nature and hiking with friends. 

  • Photo of Leila

    Leila Faulstich (she/her)
    Farm & Forest Community Coordinator
    Montpelier Parks 

    Leila was born and grew up in Costa Rica, culturally confused, and spending many hours scampering through her parent’s Asian restaurant. Through a couple of chance circumstances, she found herself at Middlebury College in Vermont, where she received her B.A in Biology and Religion. It was encountering Vermont’s forests that really opened Leila’s heart to the natural world, and spurred her dreams for a future in forestry. In addition to trees, Leila loves interpretive dance, creative writing, facilitation, and activism around money, value, and equity. She is excited to serve at the City of Montpelier’s Parks and Trees Department for a second year, where staff members combine idealism and pragmatism to provide accessible public goods and spaces for the people of Montpelier.

  • Photo of Eileen
    Eileen Fitzgerald 
    (she/they)
    Community Conservation Coordinator
    South Hero Land Trust

    Eileen graduated from Siena College with a B.Sc in environmental  and conservation science in 2020. In school, she researched a range of topics from wetland ecology to food justice, and developed a passion for the interconnectedness of conservation on both ecological and community levels. She moved to Vermont in 2021 from her hometown in Western Massachusetts for an internship with the Vermont Center for Ecostudies and since then has fallen in love with the area. In her free time you can find her hiking or biking when weather allows, and crocheting or snowshoeing when it does not (and caring for her pet gecko and plants regardless of the weather). She is excited to work with the unique and growing community of South Hero to facilitate events and programs that promote the intersections of ecological conservation, community vibrancy, and social justice

  • Bekah Kuster is smiling into the camera, she is long curled red hair and is wearing a gray and white sweater Rebekah Kuster (she/her)
    Community Energy Coordinator
    Vermont Natural Resources Council

    Rebekah (Bekah) is currently serving as VNRC’s Community Energy Coordinator, helping to support and foster town energy committees across Vermont. Bekah grew up in a cohousing community in southwest Colorado where she formed a deep connection to the natural world and her passion for environmental work began. Bekah graduated from the University of Vermont with a B.S. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Community and International Development. She designed her studies at the University of Vermont to focus on understanding the interplay between environmental policy, and community development and organizing. Bekah previously worked as a Canvasser for Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) where she educated Vermonters on VPIRG’s anti-plastic legislation campaign. Most recently, she interned with Shelburne Farms, helping to facilitate place-based and experiential learning opportunities for elementary-aged students. In her free time, Bekah enjoys exploring the outdoors with friends, eating delicious gluten-free baked goods, and playing the ukulele.

  • Photo of Eliza
    Eliza Merrylees (she/her)
    Stewardship Technician
    The Nature Conservancy SLCV

    Eliza is currently serving as the Stewardship Technician at The Nature Conservancy of Vermont’s southern office in Poultney. Eliza hails from East Montpelier, Vermont, and has spent countless hours exploring the beautiful state on skis, by foot, or by bike. Her love for the state runs deep, so after graduating with a B.S. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Wildlife Biology from the University of Vermont in 2021, she decided to dedicate her efforts to conserving the wild places that she cherishes. During her service, Eliza has also been able to further explore her interests in ornithology, herpetology, conservation, and land management. Outside of her service, Eliza enjoys baking, swimming, canoeing, and fishing. 

  • Photo of LIz
    Liz Palmer 
    (he/him)
    Outreach & Field Coordinator
    Green Mountain Club

    Liz is serving as the Outreach and Field Coordinator for the Green Mountain Club. She grew up in Massachusetts but spent a lot of time in the mountains and lakes of New Hampshire. Her time outdoors cultivated a desire to support the ecosystems that allow humans to exist. Liz recently graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in Environmental Studies. After going to school in Vermont, she fell in love and wanted to stay for at least one more year. When she’s not out in the field or in the office with the Green Mountain Club, Liz can be found hanging out with her cat, dancing, or enjoying time outside with friends.

  • Sam photo

    Samantha Poratti 
    Land Management Coordinator
    Vermont Land Trust

     

    Samantha is serving as the Land Management Coordinator for the Vermont Land Trust in Brattleboro, Vermont. Originally from Essex, Vermont, she is excited to explore and become more knowledgeable about the southern portion of the state. She graduated from the University of Maine with a B.S. degree in Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology in 2018, and since has worked in various aquatic ecology and fisheries positions in McCall, Idaho, Yellowstone National Park, and most recently MidCoast Maine. Samantha has always been interested in natural resource conservation and its relation to people. Being able to serve others in her home state, while also contributing to the protection of its natural resources with VLT, makes this a perfect fit for her. When not serving, you can find her reading, playing with her chickens, spending time with family and friends, walking in the woods, fly fishing and thinking about fishing!

  • Maddie photo

    Maddie Sholar (she/her)
    Aging in Place Coordinator
    Montpelier Senior Activity Center

    Maddie is currently serving her first term as the Aging in Place Coordinator at the Montpelier Senior Activity Center (MSAC). She is from Bozeman, Montana and in August 2021 moved to Montpelier, Vermont. She graduated from Montana State University in 2020 with a degree in political science with an emphasis on political theory. Luckily, the Bozeman lifestyle and the Vermont lifestyle are quite similar. She holds a deep love for backpacking, snow sports, travel, and all things adventure. As a newcomer to Vermont, she figured that no one would know the state better than the people at the senior center, and believes this service year will provide Maddie an opportunity to directly and positively impact her new community.  

  • mw photo

    Michael Weiss (he/him)
    AmeriCorps Leader
    Vermont Housing & Conservation Board

    Michael is serving as the AmeriCorps Leader with the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. He grew up in Southeastern Michigan and got an undergraduate degree in sustainable development at Appalachian State in Boone, North Carolina. He spent his years studying cooperative housing, environmental justice, and alternative economies while serving as a lead organizer in a local climate justice organization. His passion for community wellbeing and experience organizing feeds right into his service with VHCB where he coordinates events, trainings, and service days, and does his best to support VHCB members placed at all VCHB AmeriCorps host sites. Michael also loves to bike, rock climb, and cook delicious meals with friends.

  • kira photo

    Kira Wilson (she/her)
    Stewardship Technician 
    The Nature Conservancy

    Kira is currently serving in her second term at the Nature Conservancy as a Stewardship Technician in Montpelier. She grew up in Queens, NY and graduated from Union College in June 2020 with a B.S. in Environmental Science with a concentration in Ecology and a minor in Anthropology. When Kira was in high school she had the opportunity to intern for The Nature Conservancy through their Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) program and it drew her into the world of conservation. Being from the city, she is very excited to be living in Vermont where she can more easily access and enjoy natural spaces. Kira is passionate about nonprofit work and conservation so service with VHCB was a natural fit for her.

  • abi photo

    Abigail Youngless (she/they)
    Housing Education Coordinator
    Champlain Housing Trust

    Abigail was born and raised in the state of Florida, but has come to find Vermont as their second home. The friendly and innovative nature of Vermont fosters many characters and qualities that make Abigail feel welcome. Those characteristics led Abigail to pursue and acquire a bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont in Community & International development. Prior to obtaining their Housing Education Coordinator position with the Champlain Housing Trust, Abigail had mostly worked retail and food service positions. While hospitality jobs provided Abigail with a great deal of skills and experiences, Abigail ultimately feels pulled to work positions where their communicative and empathetic nature can be put to use in a way that develops a person or community more. AmeriCorps is a great fit!