interview // Lesley Snyder
photo // Craig Thomas
Rosalyn Graham could talk about Shelburne Farms until the cows come home – and we’d listen. After spending 25 years involved with the Shelburne News from its “mimeographed newsletter days to a ‘real’ newspaper,” she says, and volunteering in varying capacities at the Farms, the journalist transitioned into the role of development of community relations for the nonprofit education center in 2003.
She beams, “What could be more satisfying, gratifying, and fun than working for an organization that is held in such high esteem in its community – whether that community is defined as Shelburne, Chittenden County, Vermont or beyond?”
What was your experience as a young female journalist?
“When I graduated from college in 1963, the typical job for a girl in journalism was in the women’s department writing weddings and social events. I knew I didn’t want to do that, so I looked for a newspaper with an opening for a reporter in its newsroom. I moved 1,000 miles from home to become a reporter for the Saint John Telegraph Journal and Evening Times Globe where I covered general news and then became the police beat reporter. That was fun and exciting.
“From Saint John, I moved to Moncton, New Brunswick to be an information officer in the public relations office of Canadian National Railway’s [CN] Atlantic Region, and then to Montreal to CN headquarters as editor of promotional material. Then [I relocated] to Cambridge, Ontario where I was editor of the Cambridge Times, a weekly, and to Shelburne in 1976 …when my husband was part of the management team that moved here to establish Hayward Tyler Pump Company.”
What is your favorite place or program at the Farms?
“I grew up on a dairy farm in southern Ontario, so I have to say that my favorite places on the Farms are the Dairy, with its Brown Swiss cows (who combine excellent milk production with pleasant temperament and very photogenic faces), and the Children’s Farmyard. Not too long ago everyone had a grandfather who had a farm, and they knew that milk came from cows and hens laid eggs and farmers were important to our welfare. Those days are gone, and it is at the Children’s Farmyard that the Shelburne Farms educators who can, in an informal and entertaining way, recreate that link between the land, the farmer, and the quality of our lives.”
How do you incorporate the Farms’ philosophy of environmental responsibility and sustainability into your own life?
“I’m fortunate that my job at Shelburne Farms involves talking to a broad spectrum of the public, local people and visitors, and so I can include stories that illustrate environmental responsibility and sustainability. And at home it’s as basic as composting, buying local, and driving a Mini.”
If you ever have free time, how do you prefer to spend it?
“I’ve been involved in lots of other local and regional projects and organizations, including the Champlain Housing Trust Board of Directors, the Charlotte Shelburne Rotary, and the founding of Shelburne Village Dog Park. [I also spend time with] lots of dear friends and my wonderful family – husband Tom, son Andrew, and daughter Lesley – at our home on Shelburne Point with our dogs, Nico and Stella.”