Cows have grazed the pastures of the Clifford Farm in Starksboro since 1793. Today, under the management of Eric and Jane Clifford, the farm contributes five and a half million pounds of milk to Vermont's dairy industry every year.
The Clifford farm has also become a magnet for University of Vermont College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) students and researchers, and in doing so, is practically a UVM outpost - a learning tool for animal science students.
"The Cliffords have achieved excellence in their business, recognition as leaders in the dairy industry and commitment and service to the University of Vermont and Extension," said Leon Berthiaume, chief executive officer of St. Albans Cooperative Creamery.
If it weren't enough to run a farm of 370 cattle on 500 acres, Eric Clifford founded the Champlain Valley Crop Association and the Concrete Grazer's Discussion Group, he was an organizer of the Vermont Large Farms Conference, and is an advisor to several organizations including: the Lake Champlain Citizen Advisory Committee, Large Farm Operations Group, UVM CREAM Program and the UVM/VTC 2+2 Program. Eric, a 1972 graduate of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, received the College's 2009 Outstanding Alumni Award during festivities at the campus Davis Center on May 9.
"Both Eric and Jane are respected members of the Vermont community, with a great passion for the dairy industry, UVM and the state. Each has achieved excellence," said animal science Assistant Professor Adam Lock, in his nomination letter.
Roger Allbee, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, points out: "Eric supported UVM's land-grant mission throughout the years by his willingness to provide access to the farm for countless students, to allow research to be conducted by UVM faculty, to be involved with UVM Extension as an advisor and to serve on numerous UVM committees."
"They are gracious hosts on their farm, and speak clearly, yet boldly on behalf of dairy farming," said Jackie Folsom, president of the Vermont Farm Bureau.
Clearly, yet boldly-
In other words, as former UVM provost, now President of The Windham Foundation John Bramley said, "I always looked to them for great advice, and they always were willing to give it when asked. Actually, they were also prepared to give it when I didn't ask, but they felt I needed it!"
Other alumni and faculty honored at the ceremony were: UVM Extension Forester Thomas McEvoy, Vermont Dairy Herd Improvement Association general manager Brett Denny, Yale University forest ecologist and director of field studies Thomas Siccama, nutritionist and founder of Green Mountain at Fox Hollow Thelma Wayler and UVM senior Jacob McFadden.
Cheryl Dorschner works with both the University of Vermont College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and UVM Extension as a writer, photographer and senior communications specialist. This article first appeared in Agriview.