One’s twenties are usually spent experimenting - with jobs, relationships and living situations - often in urban settings. But I’ve found four young people who find plenty of room for exploration right here in Vermont.
Carpenter Pat Stevens says it felt like a forgone conclusion to return to Vermont after four years in the Boston area. He says that Vermont’s “consistent scenic pleasures” as well as family and fulfilling work pulled him home. And he says, “For young people it's an ideal place to learn some earthly traditions, but also the piano if you're interested. We've got a little bit of everything up here.”
Kate Stevens, Pat’s wife, grew up in Underhill, and returned to Vermont after getting her masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Lesley University. She thinks expanding local post secondary education opportunities would make Brattleboro more vibrant and attractive to more young people. And she says, “Free pre-k programs would provide important incentives for young families to come and stay in Vermont.”
Singer-songwriter Hannah Hoffman found the local music scene in Brattleboro exciting enough to stay. She’s put out one album traditionally, and is working on her second, this time learning production and sound engineering on her own. That Vermont often requires people to wear several vocational hats appeals to Hoffman, a confirmed farm-to-table “foodie.” And she’s using the know-how she picked up from three years as a professional gardener to start a family farm, Boleskine Farms, with two partners.
Becky Scott traveled to China while in high school. At Smith College, she majored in Anthropology and Government and was sure she’d work overseas. But when she took The Economics of Humanitarianism, she realized not all aid was actually helpful. Back home in Jamaica to reconsider her next moves, she got a psychiatric aide job at the Brattleboro Retreat, working with adults, teens and children. And she found it rewarding enough to pursue a Masters in Social Work. Her interest in gardening led her to envision incorporating hiking, gardening and cooking into a counseling practice. She’s not sure how she’ll create this model but is up for the challenge.
I think Vermont has always attracted adventurous self-starters. And it shouldn’t be too hard to tweak a few perks in order to encourage young people like these to come and stay for good.