Staff Spotlight: Annalise Carington


Staff Spotlight: Annalise Carington

By: Sophia Skelly

So you’re a Riparian Restoration & Monitoring Specialist. Can you break that down a little bit?

I work through a cooperative agreement between the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Intervale Center. So, I work on habitat restoration on private lands, mostly on the riparian restoration side of things, so tree planting along streams essentially. I help with implementation of projects and planning but I also head up the monitoring and stewardship for projects. So after we plant them, making sure we go back and see how they’re doing, if they need additional work, etc. The partnership between Fish and Wildlife and Intervale Center originally formed through the Conservation Nursery because they provide most of the plant material that we use for our restoration plantings.

What is a typical day for you?

It changes a lot depending on the season. Winter is report writing, meetings, scoping work for the spring planting season, and getting contracts set up. Spring is planting season and then we transition into monitoring and stewardship and also scoping new sites. And then fall is another planting season and we’ll also start to flesh out projects for next spring. And then it all starts over!

So, a typical day might be going out and meeting with a landowner who’s interested in riparian restoration on their property and talking about what that would look like and what some of the financial incentives are. We also walk the site and see what the existing natural community looks like. Often, it’ll be pasture land or hay ground or even some crop ground that is just so wet and they aren’t wanting to manage it as intensively anymore. In those cases, we have some fairly attractive financial incentives for the farmers to let go of that land and enroll it in our program.

The piece that I do with the Intervale Center now is with Ag. Services team. And that’s kind of on an ad hoc basis when the business planners here are working with farms that are also trying to navigate the new water quality regulations or wanting to access those conservation programs. I can help consult and navigate them through that process because it can be daunting.

So is it working directly with farmers the reason you wanted to work with the Intervale Center?

Yeah, that was a big part of it. For me, having more of a background in land management and conservation but realizing that in a working landscape like Vermont, you can’t ignore farm viability and thinking about the whole farm operation with land management from other perspectives like water quality, ecosystem service, watershed resiliency. If a farm is doing well financially and is viable, they are going to be better able to manage their land. So, it makes sense to have those conversations hand-in-hand. I appreciate the role I can fill here with the business planning team. I can provide a little more of that technical expertise with the conservation programs that the business planners don’t know as much about.

Where do you see the future of farming in Vermont headed?

As a state, we’re experiencing a big transition in the type of agriculture that’s going to be viable long term. I think we’re seeing conventional dairy shifting out and I think it’s a little bit unclear what’s going to fill that vacuum. That means that we have an opportunity to think about what our priorities as a state are. Tying it back to the land management piece, it’s really important for all of these different farming organizations to think about what the land is best suited for and thinking about the land base as a whole.

What are your dreams for the future?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about community and while things seem so tenuous in the world, there’s just so much resiliency in community, and people, and being able to rely on and support people in your life. So, that’s something I really want to focus on in the next few years, fostering a community that really supports itself when a lot of the outside world feels pretty out of control.

I also make music with friends and that’s something I want to keep doing more of. I play the guitar and I sing and I also have been learning how to play the fiddle. I’m wanting to do more of that and it’s also a beautiful way to form community.

Abby Portman