Bennington native honored as SerVermont ‘Local Leader'


MONTPELIER -- SerVermont and AmeriCorps Alums honor one alumni of the state service organization every year with the "Local Leader Award," presented this year to Lauren Chicote at AmeriCorp's 20th-anniversary celebration and Governor's Service Awards in Montpelier.

Chicote, a 2005 Mount Anthony Union High School graduate, was nominated for the award by Francis Sharpstene, director of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board AmeriCorps Program. She was honored with the award by Gov. Peter Shumlin during a ceremony at the statehouse last week.

The Bennington native said her experience with AmeriCorps shaped who she is today, both professionally and personally.

"Personally, I was able to meet many new friends and expand my networks within the community I live," Chicote said. "Professionally, I developed many skills that I feel ultimately lead to my hiring by the organization I was serving (and expanded) my knowledge on natural communities in Vermont and the various environmental issues the state faces."

After serving two terms of AmeriCorps service with the board for the Winooski Valley Park District in Burlington as an environmental educator and resource specialist, Chicote was hired as assistant to the director of WVPD, where she remains today.

In her role at the park district, Chicote has continued as the AmeriCorps supervisor, collaborating with a number of nonprofits to provide environmental education in the seven towns WVPD is affiliated with.

"I had been working for an after school program before becoming an AmeriCorps member and new I enjoyed working with youth, but wanted to incorporate my degree and love for the outdoors into my job," Chicote said. "Being able to teach and help others develop a connection with the environment and the natural world seemed like the perfect fit for me to meet both my personal life and professional goals."

Chicote began her service with AmeriCorps in 2011, following her education at the University of Vermont, where she earned a bachelor's degree with the Rubenstien School of Environment and Natural Resources.

The girl who once worked at Vermont Confectionery in Bennington, and was a member of MAU field hockey, cross-country skiing and tennis teams now volunteers her spare time for the Green Mountain Club and the Vermont chapter of the Nature Conservancy. Chipote also volunteers the winter months with the Catamount Trails Association Youth Ski Cubs program, which "gives disadvantaged youth the opportunity to learn to cross-country ski," she said.

"AmeriCorps members make a powerful impact on the toughest challenges facing our nation," stated Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Wendy Spencer in a press release following the Governor's Service Awards. "The participation of the president and bipartisan governors and mayors across the country reflects how AmeriCorps has become an indispensable solution for local leaders and pathway to opportunity for those who serve."

Learn more about SerVermont online at

Contact Tom Momberg at Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg


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