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Vermont Sustainable Heating Initiative


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  • Jessie-Ruth Corkins Jessie-Ruth Corkins became involved with biomass energy as a sophomore in high school, working with her science fair project partner, and mentored by Thomas Tailer, to transition the heating system at Mount Abraham Union High School to run on wood chips. This early work paved the way for what would, in 2008, become VSHI. She received the Earth Island Institute's prestigious Brower Youth Award for environmental leadership in 2008, for her work with VSHI. She studied Environmental Science at the University of Vermont.
  • Courtney Devoid Courtney Devoid also began her career as an environmentalist at a young age. She helped lead VSHI to our collaboration with Vermont's LIHEAP fuel assistance program, at a critical juncture when many of the other founding members were leaving for college. She has received numerous awards for her work here, including the Prudential award for Vermont's Top Youth Volunteer, and placing as a runner-up for the EPA's Environmental Stewardship Award. As a senior in high school, she traveled to Taiwan as part of the U.S. team at the International Earth Science Olympiad. She now studies Conversation Biology at Middlebury College.
  • Thomas Dickerson Thomas Dickerson joined VSHI soon after it started as a technical consultant. He helped engineer the "email bomb" emailing campaign on Vermont's biomass resources that lead to our first meetings with Vermont's state legislative committees on Agriculture, and Natural Resources and Energy, as well as with then-governor Jim Douglas. He quickly cultivated his own interest in solid biomass fuels and energy policy, and continued to work with VSHI in a leadership role. In 2012, he received the Department of Energy's National Undergraduate Fellowship in Plasma Physics and Fusion Energy Sciences. He studied Computer Science, Mathematics, and Physics at Saint Michael's College, and is now pursuing his PhD in Computer Science at Brown University.
  • Thomas & Elizabeth Tailer Thomas & Elizabeth Tailer are the science-education powerhouse duo who first inspired us to form VSHI through their combined work as directors of the UVM/GIV Engineering program, and through Tom's (25 years of) work as a physics teacher at Mount Abraham Union High School. Among many other things, they coached the US team to the International Earth Science Olympiad for several years, and have worked as science & nature educators "Mother Nature and Father Time" on the slopes of Smuggler's Notch. They graciously opened up their home for summers 2009 and 2010 to host the Burlington chapter of Summer of Solutions. Beth is a nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Fletcher Allen Health Care.
  • Anne Watson Anne Watson is a physics teacher and ultimate frisbee coach at Montpelier High School, as well as the current academic director for the UVM/GIV Engineering Summer Institute, and a Senior Fellow of the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation. She currently represents District 2 on Montpelier's City Council. Like the Tailer's, she provided early mentorship and guidance to VSHI's younger founding members as well as being a key member of its leadership team.